An Illinois lawmaker wants to repeal the recent gas tax hike during any future economic downturns.
State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, has introduced a bill to fully roll back the 19-cent-per-gallon increase if the jobless rate across the state exceeds 8 percent for three straight months.
“What this does is say that we understand and want to help our working families and our fixed-income elderly alike,” Cabello said. “And if something happens, we’re there for them and by their side.”
Under the terms of the bill, the Illinois Department of Employment Security would be required to notify the state Department of Revenue when the jobless threshold has been met. The tax then would revert to the pre-July 1, 2019, rate, which could mean bigger savings in the coming years.
“What a lot of people forget, is that the gas tax also goes up at the rate of inflation every year from here on out,” Cabello said. "It’s usually about a penny a year to keep pace with inflation.”
The reduced rates would remain in effect until the unemployment rate in Illinois is under 8 percent for three straight months.
The unemployment rate in Illinois has topped 8 percent for just two periods over the last 30 years, in early 1992 and again from March 2009 through early 2014.
“Luckily, the Trump economy is roaring, but like anything else, history repeats itself,” Cabello said. “We will be in a recession at some point in time. Let’s not wait until people are really hurting to try to do something. Let’s do it before so that everything is in place.”
The doubling of the gas tax is a funding mechanism for the state’s $45 billion capital infrastructure plan. Cabello, who represents a district near the Wisconsin border, said he has heard plenty from constituents since the hike in July.
“They’re not just going over the border to fill up, they’re shopping up there, buying groceries,” Cabello said. “They’re spending more money up there now than before the gas tax.”
The bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee for further consideration.