‘Sticker Shock’ now includes gas pump
by fran eaton April 12, 2011 6:28PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The first warm weekend in April, we took the hardtop off our 2002 Thunderbird, anticipating our first glorious spring ride of the year with the top down.
That was until we remembered this year’s pleasure would cost us much more than last year’s did.
Upon fill-up, the gas pump read $72.93. We gulped. Just a few years ago, a joy ride in the T-Bird cost us about $40.
A trip to the gas station these days doesn’t stir up pleasant conversations with fellow pumpers like it used to. Now people are noticeably angry when they’re filling up. Families with vans and sport utility vehicles bulging with federally-mandated child safety seats often pay out $100 to fill their tanks.
Most of us who couldn’t afford to trade in our “clunkers” for federal refunds a year ago are now strapped with the choice of either running up our credit card balances or cutting our diminishing discretionary budget items.
Gasoline is expected to be $5 per gallon by Memorial Day and there’s no relief in sight. No rollbacks, no price plateaus, no refunds.
If we lived in Venezuela, gas would be 12 cents a gallon. In Libya, it’s 42 cents. Those oil-harvesting countries have unlimited access to gasoline products, reminding us again that although America has oil sources, our environment-obsessed administration isn’t interested in tapping into them.
For the most part, we’re at the mercy of foreign oil producers.
At least we’re not living in Japan, where gas is $6.77 a gallon, or Germany, where gas is at an all-time high of $8.35 per gallon. We should be thankful we’re paying only $4 a gallon, environmentalists tell us.
Illinois, GasBuddy.com reports, is home to the highest gas prices in the Midwest. Frugal trip planners likely will fill up in Indiana, drive through Illinois, and fill up again after crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa. They’ll plan to stay over on either side of Illinois, after they’ve used our highways and enjoyed our scenery.
So, what can Illinoisans do about the situation? We can’t do anything about the price per gallon of gas. Free-market competition has been squelched by oil cartels and import regulations.
The most we can do is squawk about the taxes attached to filling up our tanks. Right now, those taxes can raise our fill-up costs by $7 to $10 dollars.
It’s a bit complicated, but depending upon the county and locality, there’s a per-gallon fixed fuel tax rate that is supposed to subsidize road and highway maintenance. In Chicago, that’s 5 cents a gallon and, in Cook County, it’s 6 cents a gallon. Then add 18 cents a gallon federal tax and 19 cents a gallon state tax. That’s nearly 50 cents a gallon in fuel taxes alone.
Those rates are charged per gallon, according to consumption. The only way to stifle those taxes is to limit the amount of gas used.
But — as if that fuel-tax burden wasn’t enough — a sales tax is added. The combination of the gas cost plus the fuel tax is added together, and 6 percent of the final subtotal is added as a sales tax that goes to Illinois’ General Fund.
That means double taxing every gallon of gas we buy.
That, my friends, is how Illinois earned the highest gas costs in the Midwest. And it’s why you’ll hear few outraged state lawmakers complaining about skyrocketing gas costs. Indeed, Illinois gets much more revenue when the per-gallon cost rises from $2.75 to $4.75.
Last year, when gas prices were $1.20 less per gallon, Illinois raked in $750 million in gasoline sales taxes. With the current higher per-gallon rate, Illinois’ General Fund may take in up to $1 billion in gasoline sales taxes alone.
And if that doesn’t irk you enough, since it’s almost April 15, let’s talk about the 67 percent hike in state income taxes. Or how about the newest dream tax Illinois Democrats are fantasizing about — a tax on services?
National Taxpayers United of Illinois’ Jim Tobin spews caustic venom when asked about the increasing Illinois tax burden.
“The vast majority of those taxes going into the General Fund is used to pay state employees’ salaries and pensions,” Tobin said. “The General Assembly isn’t up in arms about the higher gas prices. Why would they be? This is just another rip-off for the taxpayers of Illinois.
“If we used the motor fuel tax to pay for roads and bridges like we’re told the tax is for, we wouldn’t need a $31 billion pork-laden capital program. Those who keep raising our taxes and spending more are greedy, self-serving politicians.”
During a time when jobs are hard to find and industries are lagging, higher taxes and higher gas costs are the last things with which hard-working citizens need to contend.
But there is hope, Tobin said.
“We have to drive all those Democrats — I call them ‘Demo-rats’ — out of office next year,” Tobin said. “If we get rid of 10 or 20 of those greedy, self-serving b-words, things would change quickly. There’s hope for Illinois, but only if voters get involved and throw those guys out.”
Next time you’re filling your car, and the guy on the other side of the pump gripes about the price, you might smile and remind him with Tobin’s words, “Next time, throw those greedy, self-serving b-words out.”
Then jump in the car and take off.