Pritzker Budget Address (copy)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is congratulated by lawmakers after delivering his first budget address to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate in Springfield in February. Pritzker’s proposals call for more taxes and spending, something analysts cite when asked why a recent poll gives the governor a low approval rating.

“Taxmageddon” is coming to Illinois on July 1. Do not take my word for it; but according to the proverbial word on the street, if you live in Illinois, life as we know it will undergo a major transition in two weeks. That is the day the new gas, vehicle registration and cigarette tax increases take affect. Right smack in the middle of America’s busiest driving season, the state goes and pulls the rug right from under us.

As part of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s budget, the state tax on gasoline will double from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon. Vehicle registration will cost $50 more. And cigarettes will cost one dollar more per pack. So, if you own a lot of vehicles, drive a lot of miles and smoke a lot, you are going to feel the pinch.

Fortunately, for the majority of residents, the sting won’t match the hype. Most residents don’t own a lot of vehicles, don’t drive a lot and don’t smoke. But, that won’t stop a whole bunch of residents from being screaming mad at another state tax. Because that is what we do. We get mad. We verbally protest. We accept it. We forget about it come election time.

I get the point of it being a matter of protest against the state finding another way to keep tapping into our disposable income. Any protest is justified because silence can and will be construed as consent. History has shown that the state doesn’t need our consent, except for a permanent income tax increase. Should I take part in any protest, it would be in the form of reduced consumption of gas. I have complete control over the miles I drive, and I don’t smoke. The increased vehicle registration fee is unavoidable.

I am not jumping for joy over any tax increase. However, it is not something that will motivate me to move away. Certainly, we all have a tax threshold, but for me this latest round is not it. For others it may be. On the bright side, we have a new local business to facilitate those planning a move out of state. On the less than sunny side, the rest of us will deal with it — again, until the next election.

The new gas tax and vehicle tax increases will work out to about $100 more per year per car for the average resident. If you’re above average, you are going to pay more. That $100 per year increase is a little over eight bucks per month. Or the cost of a typical fast food value combo meal or less than the cost of one pack of cigarettes.

There seems to be two schools of thought regarding the latest state gouging of its citizens. One feeling is that it’s going to kill us, or at least take us to the edge. The other is that it ain’t going to kill us. Comparing our average price of gas after the new tax to the rest of the country, we will still be paying within a few cents of what about 50 percent of the states pay. About 20 percent of states located west and north pay more per gallon and about 25 percent of states, located south of us pay less. Our immediate neighbors to the east and west pay a little less on average. But, if you want to live in Iowa or Indiana to save a few pennies, it is just a one day move.

Again, I am not in favor of raising taxes as a first and only resort. I agree with the majority that there has to be some reduction in spending. Contrarily, I disagree with those who are predicting our state’s demise because the tax and spend political party controls the state mansion and Legislature. And, although Illinois is losing population annually at the risk of losing another congressional seat, I think there may be a variety of other nontax-related factors for which people are moving to other states.

July 1 falls on a Monday. Mondays are a typical 11 miles of driving for me. As a matter of protest, I may cut my commute to six miles that day.

Take that, Gov. Pritzker.

Ron Jackson is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal and can be contacted at rjackson@ daily-journal.com.

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