Home Heartland Square Illinois Op-Ed: Illinois should repeal gas tax hike during a recession

Op-Ed: Illinois should repeal gas tax hike during a recession

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The 19th century New York lawyer and newspaper editor Gideon J. Tucker wrote in 1866 that “no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” His words have never been more true than in Illinois in 2019.

With 21 new or increased taxes approved in Springfield this year, more working families, seniors on fixed incomes, and recent graduates looking to join the workforce are feeling the pressure of the higher cost of living than ever before.

The Illinois House of Representatives returned to Springfield this week for the first time since passing a bill on June 1 doubling the state’s gas tax. Twenty Republicans joined 63 Democrats to approve that increase. I voted “no,” but leadership means more than just standing up against a policy you believe is harmful to families and taxpayers. Leadership requires offering solutions and working tirelessly to promote them.

That is why, on the first day of session this week, I filed new legislation to protect working families if and when an economic recession occurs by fully repealing the gas tax increase, which doubled the state’s tax on gasoline from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon and increased the tax on diesel fuel from 21.5 cents per gallon to 45.5 cents per gallon.

My bill, House Bill 3937, would fully repeal the motor fuel tax hike if the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Illinois exceeds 8 percent for a period of three consecutive calendar months. In that event, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) would be required to notify the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR), the agency responsible for adjusting the tax rate collected by retail merchants that sell motor fuel.

Gas taxes would then revert to their pre-July 1, 2019, rate of 19 cents per gallon and 21.5 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. Those lower rates would remain in effect until IDES notifies IDOR that the unemployment rate in Illinois has been 8 percent or less for a period of three consecutive calendar months.

While there is no way we can ever get those who voted for the gas tax hike back in June to repeal it, we should all come together to protect working families who already can’t afford it if and when a recession hits Illinois. I will work with anyone from either party, from any region of Illinois, who shares my commitment to fight for taxpayers.

You can help. Go to www.ilga.gov and click on “Legislator Lookup” on the home page. Type in your address to find out who your state representative is. Call or e-mail and ask him or her to co-sponsor House Bill 3937. Together we can build a movement to fight against the tide of higher taxes in Illinois.

Rep. John M. Cabello, R-Machesney Park, represents Illinois’ 68th District.