Some in Rockford community unhappy with Illinois gas tax increase
Starting on July 1, Illinois increased gas prices by 38 cents per gallon as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s capital plan to improve state infrastructure. Rockford community members have voiced their disgust with having to pay more for gas.
Conservative activist Kathie Hansen remembers that when gas prices initially increased during the Great Recession between 2007 to 2009, she witnessed many landscapers close their businesses and nurseries increase their prices. Today, she has said that many gas stations near Illinois borders have already closed or planning to close due to not being able to compete with neighboring states’ prices.
“I don’t think they should have raised the taxes, I seriously don’t think that is a good thing for our citizens or our economy,” Hansen told the Rockford Sun. “Should a recession hit, we’re going to be sitting in very poor shape.”
The new price is double the 19 cents per gallon citizens had to pay since 1990. According to data from 2018 published by the Tax Foundation, this places Illinois as the third-highest state in the country for state and local gas tax burden.
Other cities and counties in the state have made their own price hikes on gas. Chicago increased gas by 3 cents, while Lake, Will, DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties will raise their prices by 8 cents per gallon. These higher prices have the potential to place Illinois as the first or second highest-paying state for gas tax.
Gasoline was not the only product to have its taxes increased in early July. Items such as tobacco, e-cigarettes and video games also saw a price increase that were all also a part of Pritzker’s infrastructure plan.
Hansen, however, believes there is now too many taxes imposed on citizens to the point where it becomes hard to afford simple pleasures in life.
“People will have to decide if they can afford these 'want' things, fortunately most of them are not 'need' things,” Hansen said. “People will have to find ways to cut back, and so then the state won’t be getting as much as they hoped for and they will also be driving businesses and more people out of the state, which will make it so the people that are left have more of a tax burden and their grandchildren, as well.”
Illinois lawmakers have previously stated that tax increases are tough, but necessary to creating a stronger environment to live in, but Hansen disagrees with that statement.
“Yes, we do need better infrastructure, but other states seem doing fine without taxing their citizens at the third-highest rate in the nation,” Hansen said. “So, maybe we should look to other states as models as how they do their operations.”
Hansen expressed how upset she is that higher priority issues did not get solved first before taxes were raised, specifically waste removal.
“I think removal of waste in our system is very important and I have not seen that being done,” Hansen said. “That is really the first step that should be done ethically, morally and financially before they go and tax people more.”
According to a 2018 poll conducted by Illinois Policy, higher taxes is the number one reason people move out of Illinois. In May, the Illinois Policy Institute introduced a plan that could have had the state could spend roughly $10 billion on new infrastructure without raising taxes, but the plan was rejected by state leaders.