On November 8, voters in Illinois will have an opportunity to weigh in on a proposed change to the state constitution. If passed, the “Safe Roads” or “Lockbox” Amendment will put all revenue raised from the state’s motor fuel tax, tollway charges, license and vehicle registration fees into a “lockbox,” also known as a protected fund. This means the revenue can only be spent on the operation and maintenance of public roads, bridges, intercity railways, airports, and many other things that are transportation-related.
While the maintenance of roads and other transportation infrastructure is important, the BGA doesn’t agree that a constitutional amendment is the right route. Amending the Illinois constitution to prioritize transportation funding can set a dangerous precedent that diminishes education, social services, healthcare and other important programs that impact the lives of all Illinois residents.
Below is a list of pro and con arguments the BGA referenced in determining our position.
- In an analysis by the Metropolitan Planning Council, transportation investment has fallen by 40 percent and the percentage of roads in good condition has fallen from 90 percent to 79 percent.
- The MPC also estimates that Illinois would have to appropriate an additional $43 billion in transportation funding over 10 years to erase the maintenance backlog and return the state’s infrastructure to good condition.
- During a catastrophe or crisis, excess money in the protected fund wouldn’t be available to serve or assist with basic human needs.
- The amendment could lead to constitutional mandates that restrict other spending categories to protected funds or “lockboxes.”
- Legislators should be focusing on passing a clean budget, instead of protecting specific types of funding.
- The amendment complicates our already struggling budget negotiations and benefits a specific industry.
- The lockbox could restrict the use of new funds that might not be necessary for decades, including revenues from driverless cars and biking, which could decrease the need for road maintenance.
Who supports the Lockbox Amendment?
- Support comes primarily from building contractors and labor groups that would benefit from road and infrastructure contracts. There’s a noticeable lack of support from grassroots or community-based organizations.
Who opposes the lockbox amendment?
- The Civic Federation led the way in identifying problems created by, or not solved by, the Lockbox amendment, writing a letter to the editor that the BGA joined in signing, along with the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Heartland Alliance, Illinois Partners for Human Services, Shriver Center and Taxpayers Federation of Illinois. The Civic Federation letter also includes links to editorials opposing the Lockbox.
To read the Civic Federation letter, click here.