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Sustainable Revenue for Transportation: Policy Reform Options

Rethinking investment policies, revenue sources

Performance metrics

MPC supported the 2012 federal transportation authorization, MAP-21, because for the first time ever, it required the establishment of national goals, performance measures and accountability in planning and funding transportation investments. It is critical that Congress build on MAP-21 and the more recent legislation, FAST, to increase revenues and make additional, significant policy changes to improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

In Illinois, transportation spending is not tied by law to statewide goals or performance measures, nor are agencies required to coordinate to achieve the highest return on an investment. MPC is a strong advocate for a statewide, data-based approach that prioritizes the most effective, accountable and transparent investments. Simultaneously, we are advocating for new revenue options to allow Illinois to invest in transportation improvements that commuters and businesses desperately need.

A merit-based process for prioritizing transportation projects in Illinois will provide:

Federal revenue options

The federal government plays an essential role in funding transportation capital investments in Illinois and in other states. The Chicago region’s 5-year public transit capital plan, for example, is overwhelmingly reliant on grants from the federal government. The 2015 federal transportation authorization, however, did not increase funding for transportation significantly. Moreover, it relies on a transfer of general fund dollars rather than revenue from the motor fuel tax, which has not been increased at the federal level since 1993.

Several new revenue sources are necessary to fund the federal contribution to transportation capital funding. The following options are reliable and sustainable:

Illinois and regional revenue options

In addition to the revenue options MPC is proposing in response to Illinois’ $43 billion state transportation infrastructure shortfall, several additional sources are available to fund transportation at the state and regional level. These sources would provide an essential augmentation of revenues to pay for road, bridge and transit maintenance and construction.

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