Cook County Commissioner Proposes Gas Tax to Combat Gun Violence

The plan looks to create $50 million for job programs for at-risk youth

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin on Monday proposed a gasoline tax to combat violence and economic inequality by creating job opportunities for at-risk youth.

“This legislation is aimed at stabilizing communities that have been devastated by gun violence,” Boykin said.

“The unemployment rate in many of the communities experiencing horrendous levels of violence rival that of the great depression,” the commissioner added. 

The Community Stabilization & Anti-Violence Act of Cook County would use proceeds from a 4-cents-a-gallon hike on motor fuel taxes to fund the initiative, Boykin said. The plan would use the proposed tax revenue to create $50 million for new job programs for at-risk youth.

“This bill is an investment in youth jobs, community policing, parenting to prevent violence and providing an advocate for people who are disabled,” Boykin said. “We are in state of emergency. I urge my colleagues to act quickly on this legislation.”    

Boykin, who represents a large portion of Chicago’s West Side, called on Gov. Bruce Rauner in February to declare a state of emergency in response to the city's gun violence crisis.

The commissioner was joined by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and a host of other prominent Illinois leaders to announce the proposed bill Monday at the Chicago Urban League Headquarters.

Last year, Boykin proposed a measure to increase taxes on ammunition from one cent to five cents per bullet. The proposal was included in Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s budget which was passed in November of last year.

Boykin also pushed legislation to create a Cook County Gun Violence Coordinator and a Cook County Gun Violence Task Force. The legislation was unanimously approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners in October of last year.

At least 33 people were wounded in shootings across Chicago this weekend. The Chicago Police Department released figures last Friday showing 141 homicides and 677 shootings through March. That's compared to 82 homicides and 359 shootings for 2015’s first quarter.

An additional gas bill was also introduced by the Metropolitan Planning Council last week. That $43 billion, 10-year plan looks to invest in the rebuilding and improvement of the state’s transportation network.

The bill aims to pay for the state’s $43 billion transportation deficit.

The plan would be funded by a 30-cents-a-gallon hike on motor fuel taxes and a 50 percent increase on state vehicle registration fees. The state currently taxes 19 cents per gallon for gas and charges $101 to register a car or truck.

State Sen. Heather Steans, who is sponsoring the legislation, fears that the measure won’t be funded until House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner resolve the state’s budget stalemate, which dates back to July of last year. 

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