Illinois gas stations display Pritzker gas tax hikes to counter election propaganda

Illinois gas stations display Pritzker gas tax hikes to counter election propaganda

Illinois gas station owners lost their legal fight over the requirement to advertise the delay in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s annual gas tax hike. Stations now will post the mandated signs July 1, but are also telling drivers how much state leaders raised the gas taxes.

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit fighting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandate to advertise the motor fuel tax hike delay on every gas pump, but the group representing gas station owners isn’t finished.

They will post signs with Pritzker’s required language, but added their own text to point out Illinois’ elected leaders doubled the gas tax in 2019 and drove up fuel taxes to No. 2 in the nation. The station owners’ signs also note they are being forced to carry Pritzker’s message or face $500-a-day fines.

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association sued the Illinois Department of Revenue, claiming the Pritzker administration can’t force them to display election-year tax policies. U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough didn’t see anything political about the required language.

“Plaintiffs cite no case law or authority, binding or otherwise, to support their contention that the signage is political.” Myerscough wrote.

Signs must include this exact language, in bold text: “As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022. The price on this pump should reflect the suspension of the tax increase.”

Grocery stores are also required to display signs about a one-year suspension in the 1% grocery tax, but only gas stations face fines if they fail to comply. The lawsuit contended that is “a clear violation of Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection rights guaranteed by the United States and State of Illinois Constitutions,” for punishing gas stations but not grocery stores.

Josh Sharp, CEO of the fuel association, said they’re considering an appeal.

“I think it was absolutely rushed by the judge,” Sharp said. “This type of speech should be relegated to campaign commercials and direct mail.”

Pritzker touted his delay in the gas tax hike in campaign ads, saying it is a way to lower prices. It fails to lower prices, and only delays until after the election when drivers must pay more.

Regardless of an appeal, Sharp and member gas stations have agreed to post the signs giving state leaders credit for the gas tax hikes as well as a QR code that takes motorists to a gas tax calculator. The calculator shows how much of their fill-up dollars go to gas taxes.

Government union leaders who advocated for annual gas tax hikes are spending at least $5 million to push a constitutional amendment Nov. 8. Amendment 1, masquerading as a “workers rights amendment,” would guarantee a $2,100 property tax hike for the typical Illinois homeowner.

Illinois already ranks second in the nation for gas taxes and property taxes. This Election Day gives Illinoisans a direct say about their property taxes, depending on what they decide regarding Amendment 1.

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