Champaign County conservative calls new gas tax excessive
Illinois went from having the nation's 10th-highest motor-fuel tax to the third-highest when Gov. J.B. Pritzker's new gas tax kicked in on July 1, a change former Champaign County Board member Scott Tapley sees as excessive.
“Rising vehicle fuel efficiency has strained gas tax collections, but the tax increases seem excessively large,” Tapley told Chambana Sun. “Comments from legislators about revenues for projects being allocated based on politics and favoritism suggests the money will not disrupt Illinois' cycle of corruption.”
According to IllinoisPolicy.org, the gas tax is just one part of Pritzker’s plan to raise more than 20 taxes and fees to bring in the funding necessary to support the state’s infrastructure spending. The combined tax income will total $45 billion.
For drivers, the increase in gas tax equates to their paying double the previous 19 cents per gallon for a new total of 38 cents per gallon. The previous gas tax had been in place since 1990 and the new levy will bring in $1.2 billion from drivers in the first year.
The gas tax law also will allow the levy to increase relative to inflation, making the future of gas prices in Illinois unpredictable but with the assurance they will be increasing again. Tapley is concerned by the trend of mismanaged budgets in the state and the pension system in particular.
“Pension obligations continue to mount, Illinois' credit rating slides closer to junk status, and no progress due to another budget that isn't realistically balanced,” Tapley said. “Another year, another few billion deeper into the pension hole we go.”
While supporters of the gas tax hike claim that it is a necessary burden, the Illinois Policy Institute claims there is a more sustainable finance plan that would allow Illinois to raise $10 billion in new capital spending without ever having to raise tax rates.
“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,” the watchdog group posted on its website.
Illinois’ record-high $40.6 billion fiscal-year 2020 budget marks the 19th year that the state will have spent more than it collected in revenue.