FILE — Gas station

(The Center Square) – Illinois gas prices reached $5 a gallon on average Tuesday,the only state east of the Mississippi currently at or above the $5 mark.

It appears there is no end in sight for rising costs.

According to AAA, prices hit $5 early Tuesday, dropped a couple cents later in the morning, before rising again to $5.001 as of Tuesday afternoon.

A year ago, it was $3.20 a gallon. 

The average price in Chicago is $5.59, according to AAA; in Quincy it is $4.94; motorists in Bloomington-Normal are paying on average $4.74 a gallon; and in Decatur it is $4.65.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the typical household is now spending $4,800 on gas at an annual rate, compared to $2,800 a year ago.

“Gasoline is $1.05 more than it was on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine,” AAA Illinois spokesperson Molly Hart said in a news release. “That sent shock waves through the oil market that have kept oil costs elevated."

Gas prices began their rise more than a year ago, shortly after President Joe Biden took office in implemented new restrictions on the oil and gas industry.

Taxes contribute to Illinois' high gas prices. In 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation doubling the state's gas tax from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents. Lawmakers also included in the legislation signed by Pritzker an annual increase in the gas tax tied to inflation, so the state's gas tax now is just under 40 cents a gallon.

Illinois also is one of only a handful of states that assesses a sales tax on top of its gas tax.

It is tough all over, but only six states have more expensive gasoline than Illinois. California has the most expensive gas, averaging $6.15 a gallon. The other five states are Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. 

The average price of a gallon of gas for Illinois' neighbors: Missouri ($4.17); Iowa ($4.26); Kentucky ($4.31); Wisconsin ($4.40); Indiana ($4.60).

The average cost of a gallon of diesel fuel was $5.52 Monday, adding a strain to the nation’s truck drivers who transport food and other goods across the country, contributing to high inflation.

Economist Severin Borenstein told CBS News a shortage of crude oil and fewer workers, on top of the global supply crisis, means gas prices aren’t going down anytime soon.  

“The reality is we are in for high gas prices certainly through the summer and probably to the end of the year, possibly gradually going lower, but we are not going to see $2 or even $3 gasoline in the near future,” Borenstein said.

 

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.