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Quinn Has No Plan To Cut Gas Tax

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Gas Prices

The controls on a gas pump. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Once again, Chicagoans are paying more for gasoline than any place else in the United States. The average price for a gallon is now $4.45. More than a few drivers are wondering why pump prices keep rising and they don’t want complicated explanations for industry analysts.

Many of them, reports CBS 2’s Mike Parker, want the government to do something.

Pizza deliveryman Jerome Streeter spent seven hours making food runs all afternoon, burned up $40 in gas, and has barely made enough in tips to cover the cost. He thinks Gov. Pat Quinn should take a cue from former Gov. George Ryan.

During the spring gas price crisis of 2000, when a gallon cost $2.13 Ryan railed that “Nowhere in America are people getting squeezed more by high gas prices than they are right here.”

Ryan then ordered a six-month rollback of the state’s sales tax on gasoline.

Currently, drivers pay 19 cents a gallon in state tax–in addition to county (6 cents/gallon in Cook County) and federal taxes (about 18 cents/gallon.) Plus, cities and towns impose their own taxes–in Chicago it’s 5 cents. Also, Illinois imposes a 6.5 percent sales tax on top of the gasoline tax.

That adds up to about 60 cents per gallon in taxes.

“I think something like that should go on,” said pizza man Streeter, “these state taxes, man, it’s just ridiculous.”

Motorist Eric McCauley calls a rollback “an excellent idea. It’d be nice if they did it now with prices going up.”

On Tuesday, Quinn brushed the idea aside without comment. He said he wants, instead, to pass legislation enlarging the role of the utility watchdog group he helped found.

“I think we should use the power of the Citizens Utility Board … give them the ability to look at oil prices,” Quinn said.

Quinn did not raise the most obvious problem with a rollback, the multi-billion dollar Illinois budget deficit.

One motorist we spoke with did raise the issue, however.

“I thought the government was broke. How can we give away money if we’re broke?”

The 2000 tax rollback cost the state, an estimated $175 million in lost revenue.

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