Gas tax increase sends Perry County conservative across state lines for shopping, fill-ups
The dramatic spike in Illinois' gas tax, which took effect just prior to the July 4 holiday weekend, has forced one Perry County activist to seek cheaper alternatives.
"I put the minimum amount of gas in my tank to get me to Missouri, Kentucky or Indiana to do my shopping, then fill up there," Michael Phillips of Tamaroa told SW Illinois News.
Lawmakers in the state's Democratic-controlled legislature agreed last session to double Illinois' 19-cent state motor fuel tax, ostensibly to fund a $33 billion transportation program, but Phillips said he is not so certain.
"If they start fixing the goat trails I currently drive on, then I'm OK with it," he said. "But I'm sure the bulk of that money is going into other projects or someone's pocket."
Phillips added that he has a first-hand understanding of how infrastructure funding traditionally has worked in Illinois.
"Come see the road to my home on Bluebird [Road] in Tamaroa," he said. "That should be enough."
Illinois' gas tax increase, now at 38 cents per gallon, was the first since the 19-cents-per-gallon tax went into effect in 1990. The new tax is expected to bring an additional $1.2 billion more from Illinois motorists, about $100 more per driver, in its first year alone.
The tax increase is part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's $45 billion capital plan that the Democratic governor signed into law June 28 and joins 20 other tax and fee hikes earmarked for infrastructure spending. Those taxes and fees are part of the state's $40.6 billion fiscal year 2020 budget in which the state expects to spend about $1.3 billion more than it will collect in revenue.
Fiscal 2020 is projected to be the 19th straight year that Illinois will spend more than it takes in as revenue.