(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Illinois statehouse are looking to provide immediate relief in the price that motorists are paying at the pump by capping the state’s sales tax that’s on top of the gas tax.

Not only does Illinois have the second highest gas taxes in the nation, Illinois is also an outlier for tacking on a sales tax on top of the state, federal and sometimes local gas taxes. Republican state senators unveiled their plan to cap the sales tax on gas to 18 cents a gallon.

Without the cap, the sales tax could be as high as 36 cents per gallon. That’s on top of the state’s 39 cents a gallon motor fuel tax. Some local governments have local taxes on top of that. Then there’s the additional federal motor fuel tax.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Cherry Valley, said their measure differs from the governor’s proposal to freeze the annual gas tax in several ways. The governor’s plan could save taxpayers about $135 million while the GOP plan could save taxpayers around $1 billion.

“The money that he was talking about is coming directly out of roads, which again potentially cost jobs and delay crucial road work that needs to be done. Ours was money that was never obligated,” Syverson said. “So, a big difference.”

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mohamet, said state government is already reaping increased revenue because of record inflation.

“As the price of the commodity goes up, because sales tax is a percentage, the amount you pay goes up, so this is truly a windfall to the state of Illinois,” Rose said. “No one anticipated, no one expected this money. The state is gouging people at the pump on this. We need to give them their money back.”

The measure would be revenue neutral and wouldn't impact funds for infrastructure, the senators say.

Wednesday, Pritzker said a silver lining to the high gas prices is it may push more people to buy electric vehicles.

“Because it’s much, much less expensive over the long haul of ownership,” Pritzker said.

State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, said that’s unrealistic for families struggling to make ends meet now.

“We think this is the quickest way to get taxpayers dramatic relief at the gas pump, virtually in a matter of weeks,” DeWitte said.

Republicans say they will discuss Senate Bill 4195 with Democrats in the hopes of getting it passed without having to wait for the next budget year to start July 1.

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Associate Editor

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.