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Gas Prices Creep Up As Motor Fuel Tax Increase Takes Effect

Mary Hansen
NPR Illinois
Gas station off Interstate 55 in Springfield. A 19-cent gas tax increase took effect on Monday, July 1.

Gas prices in Illinois are creeping up as a 19-cent increase in the fuel tax took effect Monday.

The average price around Illinois for a gallon of gas rose slightly – from $2.79 to $2.84 between Sunday and Monday, according to gasbuddy.com - a crowdsourcing app. The consumer group AAA puts the average price around the state at nearly $3, up from $2.89 Monday.

The gas tax increase, as well as higher license plate fees, taxes on tobacco products and a gambling expansion will fund a $45 billion construction plan.

John Taylor – a retired state worker – said he doesn’t mind paying the extra few dollars that are set to go to infrastructure repairs.

“The drivers ultimately have to pay for the roads,” he said while filling up at a gas station off Interstate 55 in Springfield Monday. “I mean who else do we think would pay for them? They’ve been neglected for years. I think it seems fair.”

Still, not everyone is happy with the increase. Jo Flowers, from Springfield, was getting gas at the same station. She said higher prices may affect how much she drives.

“I have to make sure I have enough gas to get back and forth to work,” said the single mom who works at a mail sorting company across town from where she lives.

The price for a gallon of gas may not jump 19 cents immediately at every station across the state. Bill Fleischli, head of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association, said that could be because stations are selling gasoline they bought before the tax hike went into effect and can cover the tax at the price they’re selling it now.

Another reason could be competition. If a gas station hasn’t raised its price per gallon yet, the station across the street might wait to raise its prices.

“It’s all market driven,” Fleishli said.

Fleishli said the gas tax increase, the first per-gallon increase since 1990, combined with higher taxes on cigarettes and a higher minimum wage will all hurt gas stations and convenience stores around the state.

Flowers, who is also a smoker, was not happy about the cigarette tax either: “That’s a lot of money too,” she said of the dollar-per-pack increase. “So, no more smoking. Going to have to quit that too.”

Still, state leaders are celebrating what the higher taxes and fees will pay for - much needed repairs to bridges, the transit system and state facilities.

This post has been updated with more recent gas price estimates from Gasbuddy.com and AAA. 

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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