(The Center Square) – As gas prices continue to soar around the country, some states are taking action with sizable tax breaks. But in Illinois, little is being done, critics say.
At $5.27 a gallon Thursday, Illinois is one of seven states in the country with the average price for a gallon of gas over $5. The other states are California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and Alaska.
Overall, retail gas prices are up 48 cents over the past month and are 32% higher than the day before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, although gas prices began their significant rise in 2021. Industry analysts say prices will continue rising over the coming months.
New York removed the state’s motor fuel and sales tax on gasoline this week, cutting the cost for drivers by about 16 cents a gallon. A number of New York counties also moved to cap their local sales tax on gasoline.
The suspension will bring an estimated $600 million in savings to New Yorkers this year, New York state Sen. John Mannion, D-Geddes, said on Twitter.
In Illinois, not much has been done. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s pause of the scheduled automatic increase in the state’s gas tax will save only about two cents per gallon. That’s after the governor and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate doubled the state gas tax from 19 cents to 38 cents a gallon in 2019, with the automatic annual increase tied to inflation hiking it to about 40 cents now.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said much more needs to be done, as high fuel prices continue to strain Illinois household budgets.
“Who does it hurt the most?” Batinik said. “The middle-class and poor. They pay a higher percentage of their income to energy. They are much less likely to drive newer, fuel-efficient vehicles, and they certainly aren’t driving Teslas.”
Batinick has introduced a plan that would cap the sales tax on gas at 18 cents a gallon for motor fuel based on where gas prices were before the spike. He said drivers would save 10 to 30 cents a gallon.
Despite more than 30 Republican co-sponsors, the bill went nowhere during the spring legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Cherry Valley, called on lawmakers to head back to Springfield for a special session to address the situation.
“Illinois is one of just seven states that charges a sales tax of 6.25% on top of the regular gas tax,” Syverson said. “Let’s cap it and let’s leave that money in the taxpayer’s hands and not give it to the government.”