Collinsville drivers honked off at Illinois gas tax hike

Collinsville drivers honked off at Illinois gas tax hike

Protesters on July 1 greeted the doubled gasoline tax in Illinois. They warned that the 19-cent hike will hurt businesses near the state line, and poor people all across the state.

Fifteen protesters and a lot of drivers caused a honking din at a busy Collinsville, Illinois, intersection July 1 to greet the 19-cent increase in the state gasoline tax.

“We’re fortunate here. We’re 12 miles from St. Louis, so we can go buy our gas in Missouri,” said Jim Achenbach, of Collinsville. “Think about those folks in Springfield or Peoria. They can’t buy in Missouri.”

He was holding a sign reading “Honk against tax hike.” Most drivers did as they passed the BP gas station at Keebler and Beltline roads in Collinsville. One driver even put an air horn out her car window and offered a blast.

“They say they want to tax the rich, but these taxes hurt poor people. Poor people can’t help but buy gas,” Achenbach said. “They get hurt more by cigarette taxes, too. Taxing the rich is not what Pritzker’s doing.” Gas Buddy on July 1 listed Illinois’ statewide average at $2.91 a gallon, higher than any neighboring state and 47 cents higher than in Missouri. Cigarette taxes rose by $1 a pack on July 1. The age to buy tobacco also rose to 21 in Illinois.

Illinois taxes are like the frog in the pot, Jeanne Lomax of Collinsville said.

“They keep turning up the heat, and you don’t realize you’re being cooked alive by the taxes,” Lomax said.

She said she’s been in Illinois all her life, but she’s looking at a move to Missouri.

“It’s beautiful here. We love our home, but they are ruining it. They keep putting more and more taxes on us and are running us out of our home,” she said.

Paul Durr is taking over a small electrical business in Caseyville. His sign read “Tax hike hurts local businesses.”

“I can’t pass these taxes on to customers again and again and again just to support their inefficient spending habits in Springfield,” said Durr, who said the tax may be a done deal, but he was protesting because Springfield should hear from local business owners. “I’m tired of sitting down. My butt hurts.”

He asked what someone who mows lawns for a living will do. In a competitive market, he said many will absorb the 19 cents a gallon.

Durr also criticized state lawmakers for spending so little time looking at the $45 billion infrastructure bill and the impacts of the new taxes to support it. State lawmakers passed 20 new or higher taxes and fees to support the infrastructure bill and a record $40 billion state budget that also began July 1.

“And the pensions keep spiking. All these taxes are just handouts to their constituents,” Durr said.

Illinoisans on July 1 started carrying the third-highest average gas tax burden in the nation when the state gas tax doubled. The new law also allows Chicago to increase its local gas tax by 3 cents; Lake County and Will County to impose a gas tax of up to 8 cents per gallon; and DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties to double their 4-cent-per-gallon gas taxes to 8 cents.

These additional hikes in heavily populated areas may end up making Illinois’ average gas tax burden the highest or second-highest in the nation.

The gas tax increase is projected to cost the average Illinois driver $100 more per year, increasing to $130 a year by 2025 if inflation projections hold true. The new motor fuel tax is tied to inflation, meaning it will automatically rise in future years without requiring lawmaker approval.

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