CLINTON — A polarizing new gasoline tax hike is causing some on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River to head over to Clinton to fuel up their vehicles.
In the wake of Illinois legislators unveiling the plan to double the gas tax from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon, some Illinois residents have voiced their displeasure at the pumps. The gas tax increase comes as part of an announced $45 billion state infrastructure initiative, and has also been grouped with higher vehicle registration, parking, and tobacco tax increases, among others.
Though officials have tried to ensure that the tax increases will go directly toward the infrastructure improvements such as roadways after the law went in to effect on July 1, some Illinois residents aren't convinced.
"I think we're taxed way too much in Illinois as it is, and I don't think it's all going to go where (legislators) say it's going to go," rural Whiteside County resident Clifford Steiner said as he filled up his Ford Taurus at the Clinton Hy-Vee gas station Friday afternoon.
Super unleaded gasoline at the Clinton Hy-Vee location sat at a going rate of $2.69 per gallon as of Friday afternoon, nearly 20 cents cheaper than that of the Fulton, Illinois Shell Gas Station and Convenience Store. Filling up with super unleaded fuel there on Friday cost you $2.88 per gallon.
Other Clinton gas stations featured similarly priced fuel rates such as $2.68 at the Second Street Circle K location, $2.63 at the Second Street Shell station, and $2.69 at the Main Avenue Kwik Trip location. According to GasBuddy.com, fuel prices in Morrison, Illinois hovered around the $2.90 mark, much like in Fulton.
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, the state fuel tax will also be tied to inflation, meaning it will automatically rise in future years without lawmaker approval. The hike will cost the typical driver around $100 more in its first year, the Institute estimated. The state-level gas tax hike is estimated to generate an additional $1.2 billion, split between the state ($560 million) and local governments ($650 million).
Steiner, who is originally from Florida but now calls the Illinois side of the Gateway area "home," said the tax hike will most likely have an effect on where he parks his car next to the pump in the future.
"I do a lot of my shopping over here in Clinton, but now I think I can see myself filling up my car here more than I already do," Steiner said. "I don't see any positives to it, besides maybe from an Iowa business standpoint. I think the stations over here could see some increased business because people in Illinois are upset."