Gas Taxes Subsidize Mass Transit

From Jim Tobin:

CHICAGO—An in depth analysis of Illinois infrastructure has found that not only is Chicago transit exceedingly wasteful, but also HEAVILYY subsidized by gasoline taxes.

At the request of Taxpayer Education Foundation (TEF), Randal O’Toole, a Cato Institute Senior Fellow wrote the report. He has Identified not just how extravagant the Chicago transit system is, but also offered ways to improve it.

From the report, “In 2016, the state of Illinois collected about $1.3 billion in gas taxes, nearly $400 million or about 30 percent of which went to subsidize transit.

“It also collected $1.4 billion in vehicle registration fees, of which another 30 percent or $400 million went to transit.

“Add that to the fact that about 20 percent of the $1 billion in federal gas taxes paid by Illinois drivers goes for transit and Illinois auto owners subsidize transit to the tune of about $1 billion a year.”

This report can be found at with the PDF available here.


Gas Taxes Subsidize Mass Transit — 18 Comments

  1. Think about this: You can live in Chicago and not own a car because the suburbanites subsidize your massive mass transit.

    You can live in Chicago and proportionately pay less property tax than those in the suburbs because those dupes subsidize your education system.

    If you live outside of Chicago, you are subsidizing those who do live in Chicago.

    Oh, and those PACE buses you see in McHenry County, you pay anywhere from 80 to 100 % of the cost for each passenger.

    Call your State Senator and State Legislator and demand an end to subsidizing Chicago.

  2. Gasoline and diesel taxes should ONLY be used for roads and bridges. We need a state law covering that.

    Some method is needed to collect taxes from all-electric vehicles for their use of roads and bridges.

    The costs of operation of public transit within Chicago should be borne by those using the transit and by the citizens and businesses IN Chicago.

  3. This is nonsense.

    Chicago actually subsides the state.

    It would do much better simply to dump the rest of Illinois.

    BTW That is true of all the blue areas in Illinois.

    The conservative parts of the state are welfare babies.

  4. Agree that chicago should detach from il.

    Chicago public schools represent 18% of public school enrollment yet receive 60% of State funding.

    Il would be better off by vacating the mandate to subsidize Chicago, as well as abrogate all goverance authority to Chicago controlled sycophants.

  5. Sitkoski’s argument is so wrong I don’t even know where to begin.

    First, you’re confusing aid in general with transportation funds which is what this article is about. There isn’t a lot of public transportation outside the Chicago metro area.

    Second, if we’re talking about the totals, conventional wisdom is that Chicago is roughly even, downstate are takers, and the collar counties are givers.

    Third, if it would be so much better to dump the rest of Illinois then why are Democrats from the city and even collar counties opposed to it?

    Maybe you could nudge your buddies.

    Fourth, “true of all blue areas in Illinois.”

    What about Rockford? East Saint Louis?

    It sounds like your definition of what a Democratic stronghold is like, Niles or Evanston.

    You need to check your white privilege, Sitkoski.

  6. The gas tax bill is Senate Bill 103 (SB 103) in the 101st Illinois General Assembly (ILGA).


    There may be other gas tax bills in the ILGA.


    Above is the schedule of the Diversey bus line in Chicago. Intervals in morning are that a bus comes to every bus stop at 5-7 minute intervals in the morning then every 15 minutes in the afternoon.

    Would be interesting to see data for EVERY bus line, every bus on how many passengers being transported on weekdays, what percent of the bus is occupied, etc.

    Can understand low interval minutes in morning and late afternoon rush hours. But, 15 minute intervals in the afternoon seems wasteful and longer such as 30 would be more cost effective.

  8. The City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the US Government all received an F for their financial condition in their most recent ratings by Truth in Accounting.

  9. Readers if this blog primarily live in McHenry County.

    What we resent us the following: “The suburban counties generate about twice as much in taxes as they receive in direct state spending.”

    From the report referenced by Sitkoski which by the way is slanted to minimize criticism of Cook County because data is chosen to support their angle (data from 2010?).

    “Table 8 clearly shows that taxes and spending are not equally distributed across the state. The suburban counties generate about twice as much in taxes as they receive in direct state spending. Cook County is closer to breaking even in this comparison although it provides slightly more tax revenue than it receives in state spending. Downstate Illinois, on the other hand benefits from the state tax and spend mix. The 96 downstate counties, as a group receive about 50% more in state spending than they contribute in tax revenue. Breaking these counties into four regions shows a more pronounced pattern. The 18 North counties have tax/spend ratios that are not widely different from a “break even” status. The southern 19, on the other hand, receive a bit more than two and one-half times in state spending than they contribute in taxation.The central region with state offices and payroll in Sangamon County and the state’s largest university in Champaign County is roughly in the middle with a bit less than double state spending compared to its tax load.”

    It is natural for state spending in downstate counties to exceed state tax income because it is sparsely populated.

    What is sinful is the tax burden placed on the collar counties to support Chicago schools and transportation systems.

  10. Cal is right.

    McHenry County is not a welfare baby.

    None of the collar counties are welfare babies.

    You need to go downstate.

    I believe the figure are that McHenry County gets back about 80% of the money it sends to the state.

    Think about that when you are arguing about taxes. That is huge.

    Now I do not have a huge problem with spending money downstate.

    Chicago and the collar counties certainly need the extended infrastructure.

    But saying it is “sinful” to give money to Chicago, which on net gives money to the state, misses the basic point that Chicago is the center of the productive region.

    Illinois needs Chicago more than Chicago needs Illinois.

    If it is sinful to allocate money for transportation in Chicago then it is sinful for Chicago to help build roads downstate.

  11. I’d like to see the numbers for Chicago rather than Cook County as a whole.

    There are over some extremely wealthy areas in suburban Cook County that heavily subsidize the rest of the county.

  12. Ignore the ‘over’ …I should know better than to try posting from my phone.

  13. The other report I posted breaks out Chicago.

    I recall it is closer to 90%.

    I personally would like to see statistics down to the lowest possible level.

    So far I have not found anything.

  14. I am unclear from the transit report whether it is just Chicago being discussed or the entire urban area.

    I did find it funny that he focused on cutting corporate taxes and not personal taxes.

    Some corporations pay zero.

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