GOP senators want to cap state’s fuel sales tax

A gas station in Springfield, Illinois.
A gas station in Springfield, Illinois.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:52 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Illinois Senate Republicans think they have a way to ease the effects of high gas prices in Illinois - capping the state’s sales tax on motor fuel at 18 cents per gallon.

Members of the GOP caucus said Thursday that Illinoisans paid that amount in sales tax last fall before the price for gas skyrocketed. Drivers now pay about 25 cents per gallon, but Republicans worry that could reach 34 cents if gas prices soar to $5.50 per gallon.

Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) says his plan could save drivers nearly $1 billion over the next fiscal year.

The Republicans hope people will support this idea over Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed one-year freeze of the gas tax at 39 cents per gallon.

“The money that he was talking about is coming directly out of the roads, which again potentially could cost jobs and delay crucial road work that needs to be done,” Syverson said. “Ours is money that was never obligated.”

Illinois is one of seven states that charges a sales tax on top of the gas tax. That money goes directly back into state coffers, but Republicans say it should stay in your pocket.

Senate Bill 4195 was filed and read for the first time on Thursday. However, the Senate is not back in session until March 22.

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association supports the idea and stood alongside sponsors Thursday afternoon. CEO Josh Sharp said the proposal could give Illinoisans welcome tax relief at a time that they need money most.

“Illinois revenues are already $4.6 billion higher for the current fiscal year than originally projected while at the same time millions across the state are struggling with sky-high gas prices caused by record inflation and geopolitical tensions that are simply out of their control,” Sharp said. “Capping Illinois’ tax at the rate of 18 cents per gallon will help lower the cost of gasoline across Illinois and put a stop to a tremendous sales tax hike for motor fuel scheduled later this year.”

While Republicans hope the legislation could be implemented immediately, there is limited time left in the spring session scheduled to end April 8.

“The budget process is still weeks away,” said Sen. Don DeWitte (R-West Dundee). “Some people are suggesting we’ll see $5 gas in this state within a matter of weeks. The impact on increased taxes to the consumer will be immediate, and it will be dramatic.”

The Pritzker administration did not respond to a request for comment on the proposal.

“A windfall of money that the government was never expecting should never be a negotiated topic,” said Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Moline). “This is money that can go directly back to consumers instead of into the pockets of government.”

Republicans also stressed that their plan would be a permanent change. Meanwhile, Pritzker’s proposed gas tax freeze would be temporary.

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