Pritzker proposes gas tax freeze after doubling gas tax
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed a delay in the automatic state gas tax hikes he ushered in when he doubled the tax. The election-year temporary relief should become a permanent repeal.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed temporarily blocking the automatic annual gas tax increase for fiscal year 2023, but the election-year promise offers little real savings compared to the cost he imposed when he doubled the tax in 2019.
Pritzker said Feb. 5 preventing the increase “does right by working families across the state” as part of his new Illinois budget proposal. But working families are already paying $105 more a year per driver thanks to Pritzker doubling the state gas tax to 38 cents per gallon in 2019 and building in automatic increases that have boosted the tax to 39.2 cents.
Illinois drivers paid the nation’s 10th-highest state gas tax before Pritzker took office in 2019. Illinois gas now averages second-highest thanks to the doubled gas tax, which Pritzker imposed to fund a $45 billion infrastructure plan filled with pork projects.
Combined with federal taxes and state fees, Illinoisans now pay 78 cents in taxes per gallon.
Pritzker’s policy has encouraged Illinois residents living near the state line to fill up in neighboring states where they stand to save an average of about 28 cents per gallon in total taxes. Illinoisans who buy gas in Missouri – home to the second-lowest gas tax in the nation – save nearly 40 cents per gallon.
Future automatic increases to the state gas tax will only exacerbate Illinois’ competitive disadvantage compared to neighbors. Automatic increases also let state lawmakers escape responsibility for unpopular tax hike votes, plus do the most harm to low-income Illinoisans who can least afford them.
Lawmakers need to pull back on automatic gas taxes and repeal the 2019 gas tax hike. That would truly help working families – much more than a temporary delay of a tax hike.
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