Early winners and losers are beginning to emerge in the first months since Illinois doubled its gasoline tax on July 1.
The gasoline tax, which rose from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon, is pushing many drivers, especially those who can easily cross into neighboring states, to cross the border into Indiana and Wisconsin to avoid the additional cost, according to a report from the Illinois Policy Institute. In turn, this is impacting both gasoline sales and sales of convenience store items like cigarettes, according to the report. Cigarette taxes in Illinois are already higher than in nearby states, and the increased gas tax only provides another incentive to cross the border to save money, the report states.
The increase makes Illinois' gasoline tax the third-highest in the country, and certain parts of the state could see further increases, as the new law gives the state's most-populous counties greater power to increase their own gas taxes.
Former Republican U.S. Congressional candidate Dr. Jeffrey Leef says both parties shoulder the blame for fallout from the gas tax increase, as well as other financial issues facing the state.
"A huge part of the problem which created this crippling gas tax, unfunded pensions, or allowing taxpayer money paying for abortions, is the ineptitude of a visionless, unprincipled and craven Republican Party of Illinois," Leef said.
Leef points out that while issues with the gas tax require a solution, "this is only a small part of the answer in solving Illinois' financial debacles."
While Leef notes that the "principled immorality of the Democratic Party" is at the heart of the state's larger financial problems, he believes the GOP has issues of its own.
"For decades, the Illinois GOP has been comprised of a cadre of political hacks, grifters and pseudo conservatives, united only in their quest for self-aggrandizement," Leef added.