Mayors slam Pritzker’s proposal to eliminate grocery tax

A group of suburban leaders pushed back Monday on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to eliminate the state’s 1% grocery tax, saying it would deprive their communities of funding for public safety, roads and other services.

“The grocery tax receipts never actually get to the governor's desk, or to Springfield. They remain in our local communities and are the lifeblood of many important programs,” said Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin, the former village president of Barrington Hills. “This is not a tax cut. It's a political shell game.”

Algonquin Village President Debby Sosine said the loss of the grocery tax would slice $2 million out of her town’s budget.

“Two million dollars pays for my police. It pays for my public works. It pays for water, sewer and infrastructure and roads,” she said.

Cary Mayor Mark Kownick said his village stands to lose about $400,000 from its $10 million general fund budget.

“This last-minute jockeying around with our money and our budgets is hurtful to our communities,” he said.

Pritzker proposed getting rid of the grocery tax during his annual budget address last month. His office didn’t give further details, but when a one-year reprieve from the tax was passed in 2022, the state estimated it would save Illinois shoppers about $400 million.

The state reimbursed local governments for their lost revenues at that time, but neither the governor nor any budget documents outlined such a plan for a permanent elimination of the tax.

Libertyville Mayor Donna Johnson said she understands Pritzker’s desire to ease the financial burden on lower-income residents, but said he must also serve the needs of communities like hers, which would lose $850,000 from the elimination of the tax.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch said the proposal if approved by legislators would result in a $600,000 loss for her community.

“That is the road program for this year,” she said. “But for somebody spending $150 on groceries, it's a savings for them of $1.50. That insignificant amount for one person shopping becomes a huge amount for all of our communities. ”

· Capitol News Illinois contributed to this report.

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