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posted: 4/25/2014 5:01 AM

Higher fuel tax would weigh on Illinois economy

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An effort looming in the Illinois legislature could make driving even more expensive by vaulting Illinois from the highest fuel prices in the Midwest to the highest fuel prices in the entire nation. The plan on the horizon is to raise taxes on gas and diesel by as much as 10 cents per gallon, plus increase vehicle registration fees and taxes on car services.

Gas station owners and convenience store retailers are opposed to any plan that would have Illinois drivers paying more to fill up their gas tanks. There haven't been any votes in the legislature on specific proposals to raise the gas tax in 2014, but there's a concerning amount of conversation about the possibility.

We're living in a time when many Illinoisans are paying higher taxes than ever before. We cannot afford this. Too many Illinois families and businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water.

The state of Illinois already generates more than $3 billion annually in motor fuel taxes. I hear from people consistently who are astounded by how much lower gas prices are in neighboring states, and I can't blame them for wanting to save by filling up elsewhere. But that hurts Illinois' businesses and our economy as customers often buy additional items inside the store. Illinois loses all that tax revenue.

Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland released a report in 2013 that found the state spent less than half of its dedicated road fund dollars directly on road construction costs in eight of the past 10 fiscal years. Taxpayers should be outraged! We are not spending this money responsibly. Let's spend the money designated for road building on actual projects instead of diverting it. Higher fuel taxes should not be the solution.

Bill Fleischli

Executive vice president

Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association

Illinois Association of Convenience Stores

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