The common knowledge is that the administration of Gov. Pat Quinn will increase state income taxes from a flat rate of 3 percent to either 4 percent, or most likely 5 percent. This is not an “increase of 1 or 2 percent,” as will be the political propaganda we’ll face. If you pay $1,200 in state income taxes, the increase to 4 percent will mean you will pay $1,600, and the increase to 5 percent will mean you’ll pay $2,000. Those are 33 percent and 67 percent increases in the dollars you will pay, not 1 or 2 percent. Nothing can hurt the state economy worse than increasing taxes, yet that is what Springfield is preparing us for with comments by legislators and the administration.

Instead, a schedule for state vehicle registration should be implemented, including an element based on the progressive “carbon credits.” The necessary data is already available. Gas consumption is known for everyone of the roughly 100 types of vehicles, and the model of your vehicle is encoded in your vehicle identification number. These numbers are known by the Secretary of State, residing in a state computer. Similarly, the mileage on your odometer is known to the Secretary of State through annual emission tests. They check your mileage, remember?

It would be a relatively simple matter to devise a formula in which the amount you pay for your annual vehicle registration is based on the gas consumption rate of your vehicle and your annual mileage. The formula would be adjusted so that the increase in revenue would not only exceed the amount currently collected from vehicle registration, but would provide the additional revenue to aid the finances of Illinois. The formula could, indeed, be modified annually. Those who own 50-mile-per-gallon hybrids and who drive 5,000 miles per year, for example, might actually get a check in the mail, the funds created by those driving 50,000 miles each year in their gas-guzzlers.

The results would be wide-ranging. Automobile usage would decrease. People would carpool. People would buy more efficient cars. The electric auto industry would see greater demand. Reliance on foreign oil would decrease. Greater use of public transportation such as the el would bring that sector into financial health. Pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases would decrease.

Even better, municipalities could borrow the state data to provide sliding scales for their local vehicle stickers. This would provide even greater impetus for reform.

Illinois has roughly 4.5 million wage-earners who would face increasing state income taxes. Illinois, however, has an estimated 30 million vehicles on the road. That should be the source of additional revenue, while aiding the environment and stimulating an oil-free transportation society, not the pocketbooks of wage-earners fearing for their very financial existence.

Leslie Golden
Oak Park

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