Illinois residents cross state lines to fill their tanks after gas tax increase

A 38-cent-per-gallon motor fuel tax went into effect Monday in Illinois

SHARE Illinois residents cross state lines to fill their tanks after gas tax increase
Sue Reynolds, 54

Sue Reynolds, 54, of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, purchases regular gasoline for $2.97 per gallon at a Luke Gas Station, 1051 Indianapolis Blvd. in Whiting, Indiana, Monday afternoon after the Illinois’ gas tax doubled from 19 cents per gallon, to 38 cents per gallon,,

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

After Monday, where Sue Reynolds fills up her gas tank matters.

Reynolds, 54, of Beverly, has now decided to take the trip across state lines to Indiana, after the 38-cent-per gallon gas tax went into effect Monday in Illinois.

“I didn’t fill up my gas here before, but now I will,” Reynolds said at the Luke Gas Station, 1051 Indianapolis Blvd., Whiting. “It’s a crime that they’re doing it because we have to get to work. We have two cars and I’m going to have to switch cars and fill up over here — one day with one car and another day with the other.”

Other Illinois residents are expected to join Reynolds at Indiana gas stations where the state’s 29-cent-per-gallon gas tax is 9 cents lower than in Illinois.

Illinois’ 19-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase is part of the $45 billion capital plan signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday.

The Rebuilding Illinois plan will use revenue from the new taxes and fee hikes, as well as revenue from casinos and other forms of gambling, for transportation and education projects.

“Every dollar that is coming in from the motor fuel tax is going into a lock box that only goes to roads and bridges and our surface transportation needs across the state, so people know that that money will be spent well,” Pritzker said Monday at a press conference at Chicago Transit Authority headquarters.

With the tax increase, state government will generate $560 million a year and $650 million annually for local governments. The gas tax will increase each year in line with the consumer price index.

For East Side Chicago couple, Maxine and John Simmons, the increase in the gas tax will not affect their daily lives because they have been filling up their tanks in Indiana for five years.

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Maxine Simmons, 74, and her husband, John Simmons, 77, from Chicago’s East Side, have long purchased their gas in Indiana. For them, traveling to the Luke Gas Station, 1051 Indianapolis Blvd. in Whiting, Indiana is nothing new,

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“We come here every week to fill up our gas,” Maxine Simmons, 74, said while refueling at the Luke Gas Station. We just try to shop and pick up what we can since we are already all the way over here.”

Over on the Illinois side of the Illinois-Indiana border, Ernesto Ozuna, 62, of Cicero said he would move to Indiana if he could.

“It’s too expensive here,” Ozuna said in Spanish.

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Ernesto Ozuna, 62, of Cicero, Illinois, poses for a portrait after purchasing regular gasoline for $3.49 per gallon at a BP gas station at 10302 S. Torrence Ave., Monday afternoon. Ozuna drives for a living and said he would move to Indiana if he could.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“I drive for a living and I have to fill up my tank daily. That’s almost $100 a day that I have to spend.” Ozuna said at the BP gas station at 10302 S. Torrence Ave. “I just don’t see the benefit in them increasing taxes over and over. They say it’s for our benefit but who is benefiting if we can’t afford it?”

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