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updated: 6/29/2019 4:46 PM

Sunday is your last chance to buy gas before stations add 19-cent tax

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  • Video: the fuel tax increase


Good vibes prevailed in Springfield as Gov. J.B. Prizker signed a $45 billion infrastructure bill last week, but not so much at the Shell station at York and Irving Park roads in Bensenville.

"I don't like it, we already pay enough in gas," said Rehma Bokhari of Des Plaines when asked about a 19-cent gas tax increase going into effect Monday. "I just filled up for $27 and it's going to last three days, probably. They're not fixing the roads; it's just getting worse and worse."

"I'm not happy about it, but I don't know if there's anything I can do," Naperville driver Kae Yoon said.

Lawmakers in June passed a capital bill that raises the state gas tax from 19 to 38 cents a gallon Monday, hikes license registration fees from $101 to $151 along with other new fees Jan. 1, and authorizes the collar counties to raise fuel taxes up to another 8 cents a gallon.

The move opens up $33 billion for highways and transit -- and leaves $12 billion for other "vertical" projects such as fixing school, university, park district, social services and cultural buildings across the state.

"We're fixing decades-long problems, creating good jobs, improving communities for the next generation -- and doing it together, across party lines," Democrat Pritzker said at a signing ceremony.

Contriving the $45 billion package was an arm-twisting, complicated process that includes a 362-page bill full of earmarks. But getting to 38 cents at the pump on Monday is easy, said Craig Grandt, owner of Grandt's Auto Repair and Shell Service Station on Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights.

His wholesale company gas supplier will add the extra 19 cents to a website program Grandt uses to calculate prices and he'll translate that to his customers when the station opens at 6 a.m. Monday.

The high-tech approach is necessary with the multiple layers of federal, state and local taxes.

"This would be your 'buy' price, here's your federal tax, LUST (Leaking Underground Storage Tank) fund," said Grandt, pointing to an online program, "and your motor fuel tax -- that'll be 38 cents on Monday."

The $12 billion vertical infrastructure component of the capital bill will be funded by more casinos, expanded sports betting and video gambling, plus parking and cigarette taxes.

Some, but not all, suburban Republicans crossed party lines to support the plan.

"The sustained investment in our transportation and vertical infrastructure remains vital to ensure that our state continues to be attractive and viable," Republican state Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles said.

But Republican state Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills contended that the gas tax and higher vehicle registration fees "will hurt Illinois' low- and middle-income families and kill jobs that have been created by small businesses."

At the Bensenville Shell, local worker Stacey Hardnick filled up and vented. "Of course it's a problem," she said. "Gas is high (enough) already."

Grandt's Arlington Heights service station is a bit of a vanishing breed -- a place where employees fix cars instead of selling cigarettes, milk and slushy drinks, and owner Grandt gets to know his customers.

For his part, "nobody has said anything about (the new tax) -- I don't know if people are so used to prices fluctuating it doesn't matter."