Local dollars being held in SpringfieldSPRINGFIELD - Every year, Kankakee-area motorists pay thousands of dollars in state gas taxes that help pay for road salt, snowplow repair, patching potholes and other road projects and maintenance. Since July 1, however, Springfield has not distributed this money back to local governments.

“It’s ridiculous,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, a Chicago Heights Democrat who also represents a majority of Kankakee County in the Illinois Senate. “State government’s role is simply to collect the money and send it back.”

The problem, Hutchinson explained, is that the money can’t be sent to communities without some kind of official authorization. In May, Hutchinson supported a proposal that contained that authorization. While the plan passed the Senate, Governor Rauner unfortunately vetoed it, leaving municipalities without vital funding as the winter season quickly approaches. The system has been at a standstill ever since.

In 2014, Kankakee received more than $681,000 in gas tax money. Across Kankakee County, local governments received more than $2 million in gas tax money last year.

Other Kankakee-area communities received the following amounts in 2014:
•    Bourbonnais: $461,246
•    Bradley: $393,511

Additional information about how much local communities are owed in gas tax money is available here.

Hutchinson and other Illinois Senate Democrats foresaw this looming problem and tried again to prevent it. In early September, the Senate approved a second plan that would have again provided the authority needed to send along the gas tax money. Senate Democrats provided the 36 votes needed to approve it.

The legislation – Senate Bill 2046 – remains pending in the Illinois House.

“This isn’t Springfield’s money. This is local government’s money that goes to provide vital local services. It belongs in our communities where it can do some good,” said Hutchinson.

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