Sticker shock over gas tax hike should prompt questions about where the money will be spent, Palatine resident says
In addition to the initial sticker shock of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 19-cents-a-gallon fuel tax hike, the tax will likely raise Illinois' overall cost of living as well, according to a Palatine resident.
Mark J. Cramer, a member of the District 211 School Board, says that while busy voters may not see the tax’s ripple effect, it will be felt in numerous ways.
“It used to cost $25 to fill a tank, now it's $30,” Cramer told the North Cook News. “The next thing they’re going to see is the price of eggs is going to go up. The gasoline tax is going to affect retailers, as well. It’s going to increase the cost of business and it’s going to be passed back to the consumer.”
Cramer spoke on the condition that his comments would be credited to him alone and do not reflect the school administration’s position.
Although voters may initially question the jump in gas prices, Cramer predicted many will dismiss it as necessary to fund road and other projects.
“The concern I’ve heard is maybe the tax is needed because we do have some infrastructure things we need to do,” Cramer said. "But I don’t really believe the money’s going to go to what Pritzker says it’s going to.”
Cramer said he was aware of “anecdotal” reports about upgrades to parks or diverting dollars from road projects, but said he and other voters remain skeptical.
“So people don’t give any credibility [to reports] that the money is going to what it was supposed to go for,” he cautioned.
The gasoline tax is part of 20 new tax and fee hikes the governor has proposed or implemented since taking office, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. Cramer said taxing cigarettes, alcohol and other items may largely go unnoticed by the electorate.
“Those ‘sin tax’ things I don’t think people are going to be so much opposed to them, because it’s going to be somebody else [using them],” he explained.
As for talk among lawmakers about smoking and drinking prevention programs and wellness initiatives, Cramer said voters seem doubtful.
“I don’t think anybody thinks the money is going to go to preventative and health-related programs,” he said. “It’s going to go to pork-barrel projects in favored legislators’ districts.”