Fill up your gas tank before Monday, when the state’s gas tax will double and vehicle registration fees will increase.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign legislation Friday that would double the state’s gas tax to pay for a $45 billion infrastructure plan along with another bill to hike the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.
The governor was expected to begin a statewide tour talking about his infrastructure plan with a stop in East St. Louis early today (Friday).
Monday marks the beginning of the fiscal year. Once Pritzker signs Senate Bill 1939, which doubles the state’s motor fuel tax and increases vehicle registration and other driving fees, and Senate Bill 690, which expands gambling but also increases the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1 dollar to nearly $3 a pack, Illinoisans will be paying higher taxes.
The tax hikes will help pay for a six-year, $45 billion infrastructure plan.
The state’s gas tax is set to double from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon Monday after Pritzker signs the bill. The state’s motor fuel tax will also be indexed to increase every year thereafter with inflation. In addition, the state’s license plate registration fee will increase by $50, and diesel taxes go from 2.5 cents a gallon to 7.5 cents a gallon. Truck drivers would see additional fee increases.
The $1 per pack additional tax for cigarettes was part of the gambling expansion bill, which would also usher in legalized sports betting, add six more casinos and nearly double the number of allowed video gambling machines. Taxes on video gambling machines will also increase.
State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, supported both measures. He said he the state needs additional revenue from the taxes to pay for road projects.
“But when you look at the cost of it, what you get out of the few pennies that you pay at the pump for motor fuel tax, and the fact everyone uses our roadways, everyone uses our transit systems, I think it’s a really good investment for the people of Illinois,” Butler said.
Illinois Association of Convenience Stores Executive Director Bill Flieschli said both tax increases will make stores along the Illinois border less competitive.
“This whole thing is being balanced on the backs of the small business petroleum retailer, and I think it’s truly wrong,” Flieschli said.
He said the gas tax increase will hurt the economy.
“People of Illinois already spend $5 billion a year on taxes on motor fuel – $5 billion,” Flieschli said. “That’s going to go up to $8 billion or $9 billion now. That’s going to take a lot of money out of the commerce of Illinois.”
As for the increased diesel taxes, Flieschli said truckers will just drive right through Illinois without filling up.
“The truck stops aren’t going to sell any ancillary items, they’re not going to come in and stay and play our video machines and stuff like that,” Flieshli said. “I think the truck stops are really going to take a hit on this. I think you’ll see less volume and fewer employees and things like that.”
Although he supported the tax increases, Butler said he was disappointed that the Democratic supermajority was giving its members more for capital projects in their districts than Republicans are slated to get.
“All the citizens of Illinois are going to paying these additional fees and taxes and it should be divided up evenly and that’s how we should be taking a look at it,” he said.
Butler also said more work needs to be done to shore up plans to save taxpayers on construction spending.
The governor’s “Capital Bill Signing tour” starts Friday morning in East St. Louis. Pritzker will sign the capital construction and gambling expansion bills just after 10 a.m. Friday in Springfield. His final stop Friday will be at a wastewater treatment facility in Joliet, according to an email from the governor’s office.
The tour continues Monday with a stop in Rockford, which would get a new casino in the gambling expansion bill, a noon event in Chicago, which will also get a new casino, and an afternoon event in Waukegan. Tuesday morning the governor will be in southern Illinois at the location of a planned Walker’s Bluff casino and an event is slated for the Marion-Carbondale area at noon.
Story by Greg Bishop of The Center Square.