The Crusader Newspaper Group

Gas tax hike hidden in Illinois budget

By Craig Wall,

Now that Illinois has a budget, people are taking a closer look at some of the hidden costs associated with this deal.

Tucked inside the 583-page budget bill are a few pages that detail a hidden tax hike. It’s expected to raise $95 million for the state, but it means we’ll be paying more every time we fill up our gas tank.

Gas prices in Chicago are currently $0.44 a gallon higher than the national average and they will soon be going up even more.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Daphne Stratta, of Chicago. “I mean, gas is already so expensive in this city, I try as much to go to the suburbs, just the taxing is getting more and more.”

That’s because of the elimination of a 20-percent sales tax credit that was given to wholesalers on unleaded gas containing ethanol. That cost will be passed along to consumers – $0.04 to $0.05 a gallon – depending on where you live.

“It’s gonna be a really big impact on me. It’s gonna really limit where I’m gonna go and I’m gonna have to figure out a way to make up the extra money for my budget because I budget out how much gas I use a week,” said John Foster, of Chicago.

“What’s very frustrating is that normally people believe that when you pay your gas taxes, that that money is supposed to go to roads,” said State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford.

But because this is a sales tax, not a gas tax, the money goes into the general fund and not for road repairs.

There was a hidden benefit in the budget that will help out teachers this coming school year. They now will get a $250 tax credit when they spend their own money on qualified supplies for their classrooms.

Jhoanna Moldanado said it was good news as long as it didn’t count against a sales tax credit Chicago teachers currently receive. She, like many teachers, spends a lot on her students.

“Currently definitely between $500 and $700. Previously, in the beginning when I first started teaching, well over $1,000 the first two years,” Maldonado said.

Another note on gas tax: with so many roads needing repairs in Illinois, Sen. Syverson said it’s quite likely lawmakers will have to look at raising the gas tax next year.


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