Gas tax relief measures being ignored by Lake County Board – Chicago Tribune

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker gets it. President Joe Biden gets it. California Gov. Gavin Newsom gets it.

Officials across the nation get how Americans are struggling with record-high inflation and gasoline prices. They’ve suspended gasoline taxes, proposed halting them for a while or are planning to give drivers gas rebates, as in California, which has the highest fuel prices. in the nation at more than $ 6 a gallon.

Those actions may not accomplish much for our dwindling pocketbooks, but many pols are at least doing something. Except the Lake County Board.

Motorists may remember that last spring the Democrat majority on the County Board voted along party lines to approve a 4-cent-a-gallon gas tax. That was during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when gasoline prices were in the $ 3-a -gallon range.

Some Democrats argued the county should impose an 8-cent-a-gallon tax hike in order to fund nearly $ 2 billion in road projects and infrastructure improvements. Fast forward to 2022, and the cost of gasoline has nearly doubled in a year and the county gas tax remains, pushing the cost of fuel higher.

Pritzker, seeking reelection in November, moved to suspend not only the state’s portion of the gas tax — 18.4 cents a gallon — earlier this year, but also the 1% sales tax on groceries beginning July 1. The sales tax holiday on foodstuffs lasts through June 30, 2023, a bonus which the governor estimates will save up to $ 400 million for Illinois tax payers.

Still, the Lake County Board is standing pat on its 4-cent a gallon tax hike. While gas prices are dropping slightly, it costs average county drivers close to $ 75 to fill up their fossil-fuel vehicles when gasoline is at $ 5.50 a gallon.

With inflation at 40-year highs — the Consumer Price Index, a key inflation gauge, rose 8.6% in May — workers across all income levels are having a harder time making ends meet. Many are back to living paycheck to paycheck as they did during the pandemic, but this time without the federal government depositing free money in their checking accounts.

Costs for housing, gasoline and food are surging. Wages aren’t matching the pace of inflation or rising interest rates on monthly credit card balances.

Such economic uncertainty effects low-income and middle-class Lake Countians more directly. Which is why many Democratic leaders across the nation favor helping out a constituency they long have cultivated by proclaiming gas-tax holidays.

President Biden earlier this month proposed suspending for three months the federal tax of 18 cents on each gallon of gasoline, and 24 cents on each gallon of diesel. The administration has also called on states to suspend their gas taxes.

Biden’s proposal to “provide working families breathing room” has gained little traction in Congress. Unlike Gov. Pritzker, Lake County Board members so far have ignored the president’s urging to cut gas taxes.

Federal and state taxes account for 16% of the price at the pump, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Taxes are just one piece of the supply-and-demand price of gasoline, but currently it outpaces the cost of refining barrels of oil into fuel, which amounts to 15% of a gallon of gas, according to the federal agency.

Suspending gas taxes will not be a major windfall for drivers. Some argue suspending gas taxes are costly giveaways, help oil companies dodge responsibility and contribute to climate change. Eventually, those revenue deductions will have to be made up once the tax holidays end.

Lake County News Sun


News updates from Lake County delivered every Monday and Wednesday

Yet, acting on suspending gas taxes shows officials can commiserate with those who elect them. So far, that has not been the case in Lake County.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt took unprecedented actions — some later found unconstitutional by the then-sitting Supreme Court — to help drive America out of economic chaos and widespread unemployment. His decisions gave Americans hope and a positive outlook for the future.

One of those decisions in 1934 was cutting the gas tax by a half-cent. Lake County Board members could do the same as more of us hit the county’s highways this summer or commute to work.

Or head to Wisconsin for cheaper gas prices and taxes.

Charles Selle is a former News-Sun reporter, political editor and editor.

Twitter: @sellenews

Leave a Comment