Gas prices are high everywhere. They’ve risen so much that several states have suspended their gas tax, while others are considering doing so. And then there’s Illinois.
The Democrat-dominated legislature in Illinois is so magnanimous that they’re not suspending their gas tax, but they’re delaying increasing it until the end of the year. I know — how thoughtful of them.
“As part of this year’s budget, Democrats delayed for six months the 2.2-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax increase that was set to take effect in July,” explains the Wall Street Journal editorial board. In 2019 Democrats doubled the gas tax to 38 cents a gallon and indexed it to inflation.”
Not only that but the Democrats also required gas stations to post signs that are “clearly visible” — four by eight inches or larger, with a bold font — reading “As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022.”
No big deal, right? Well, if a station refuses, the owner faces a fine of $500 a day. And the signs are clearly meant to be propaganda that screams, “LOOK AT WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE DOING FOR YOU PEONS!”
“During a legislative hearing, Democratic state Rep. Michael Zalewski stated the signs would remind ‘pumping Illinoisans that…as a result of the work of the General Assembly the [cost of living] adjustment has not gone into effect’ and that as drivers pump gas, ‘their gaze will fix upon the pump and maybe they’ll read about the good things we did,’” reports the Wall Street Journal.
The sign requirement has rankled owners of gas stations enough that some of them have filed a lawsuit asserting that the regulation violates their rights to free speech. The suit says that Illinois is forcing the station owners “to choose between making a political statement they do not wish to make to their customers or the general public on behalf of the State of Illinois” or paying fines.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that government can’t compel corporations to carry political messages with which they disagree,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board commented. “Courts have also ruled that governments can mandate that businesses disclose ostensibly factual information only for limited purposes, such as preventing fraud and protecting public safety. The Illinois law does neither and has no public-interest rationale.”
It’s bad enough that the state is requiring station owners to post the signs. It becomes even worse when Illinois Democrats so brazenly trumpet that the reason for the signs is to prop the party up as the tax-cutters they’re not.
There’s a red wave coming in 2022, and just about everyone can see it building. The Democrats are pretending that their delay in raising taxes is a cut, but will that help or hurt the Democrats? The party is so entrenched in the state that the GOP faces an uphill climb even in a good year for them. With this sign requirement, the Democrats may have handed the Republicans a climbing rope.