Illinois gasoline tax doubles today
Starting today, the state’s tax on motor fuel will double from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon. The hike pushes Illinois from 10th to No. 3 in the nation for high gas taxes.
Illinois drivers today will brace for pain when pulling up to the pump.
The state’s tax on gasoline today will spike to 38 cents per gallon – doubling from the 19-cents-per-gallon state tax Illinois drivers have paid to fuel up since 1990. Just in the first year, the gas tax will take $1.2 billion more from Illinois drivers, or an average of $100 more per driver.
Illinois’ doubled state gas tax comes as part of a $45 billion capital plan Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law June 28, on top of 20 more tax and fee hikes to pay for required infrastructure spending as well as for the state’s record $40.6 billion fiscal year 2020 budget, which also starts today. Despite all the new taxes, this will mark the 19th year Illinois will end up spending more than it collected in revenue – as much as $1.3 billion more.
The gas tax hike will propel Illinois’ state and local tax burden on gasoline to third-highest in the nation, according to 2018 data from the Tax Foundation. Prior to the tax hike, Illinoisans paid the nation’s 10th-highest overall gas tax burden.
Beyond the state-level increase, 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 may end up making Illinois’ average gas tax burden the highest or second-highest in the nation.
The new law also ties the state’s gas tax to inflation, meaning it will automatically rise in future years without lawmakers facing any constituent backlash.
And it isn’t just drivers feeling the pinch today: Other provisions of Pritzker’s capital plan taking effect July 1 include tax hikes on tobacco, e-cigarettes, video gaming and more.
State lawmakers argued that higher taxes are a “tough but necessary” sacrifice for improving the state’s infrastructure. But other states have done more for roads and bridges with fewer tax dollars. Look at Texas: It’s true climate plays a role in infrastructure needs, but Texas’ average gas tax burden was 46% lower than Illinois’ before today’s hike. The Lone Star State regularly receives recognition for its best-in-the-nation infrastructure with much lower gas taxes – and no state income tax.
The Illinois Policy Institute released a plan in May showing how Illinois could finance $10 billion in new capital spending without tax hikes. Rather than demanding more from overtaxed Illinoisans, the Institute’s plan outlined how state lawmakers could have given up new projects engineered to buy political favor and instead implemented a ranking system that focused on repairs, which don’t yield photo ops but do have the greatest value to the most motorists. The Institute’s plan also reformed costly prevailing wage mandates and dedicated revenue from legalized sports betting and sales taxes on gasoline – under the old rate – to transportation infrastructure.
High taxes are the No. 1 reason cited among Illinoisans who consider leaving the state. Outbound Illinoisans have fueled five consecutive years of population loss. A gas tax burden that how ranks near the nation’s highest is only bound to continue driving Illinoisans across state lines.