The essential day-to-day commodity, which now costs more than $4.00/gallon throughout the United States, is getting close to or above $5.00/gallon in many parts of Illinois. Market data, including gasoline “futures,” indicates that prices could further increase as the summer driving season approaches. Gasoline futures are the derivative prices of shipments of gasoline dated for future delivery to gas pumps throughout the United States, and they track what the price of motor fuel is likely to be in June, July, and future months.
In Illinois, most motor fuel is a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% corn-based ethanol. With the current war in Ukraine and high prices for farm crops worldwide, corn-based ethanol does not offer any potential for motor fuel price relief. Some Illinoisans have motor vehicles that are partly fueled or wholly fueled by electricity, but electricity prices are also sharply higher from one year ago. Illinois’ tax structure, which includes taxes imposed on motor fuel by the State, by counties, by municipalities, and by multi-county groups that run public transportation systems, means that Illinois motor fuel prices can be expected to be ranked #41-to-50 among the 50 states. Cheaper gas can be found in at least forty U.S. states, although motor fuel is not cheap anywhere right now.
Earlier this year, House Republicans filed legislation to freeze the State sales tax on Illinois motor fuel. Under current law whenever the price of gasoline goes up, the sales tax (a percentage of the total sales price) goes up as well. House Republican Rep. Mark Batinick was the lead sponsor of HB 5723, which would have frozen the State sales tax on motor fuel at 18 cents per gallon. Unfortunately, the House Democratic majority refused to release Batinick’s bill from the House Rules Committee, preventing any debate or vote on this important legislation.