Lombardian and Villa Park Review Newspapers - Relief at the Pump in Sight?
Congressman Roskam's Bi-weekly Column
Illinois families are facing increased energy bills at home and cannot afford to get hit again at the gas pump. My focus in Washington is on a comprehensive, long-term solution to our energy needs, but our families need all the help they can get in the near-term. Due to this pressing need, earlier this week I called on my former colleagues in Springfield to act quickly to ease the state tax burden on gas. A number of sound proposals have been made in the Illinois General Assembly, and acting on these will offer much-needed short-term relief.
Indeed, while gas prices have climbed all over the country, Illinois now has the distinction of the most expensive gas in the country, averaging $3.59 a gallon. The nation's average is up more than 99 cents since Januaryand it's not even summer yet!
Illinois is one of only eight states that charge a sales tax on top of a motor fuel tax. We are literally paying taxes on our taxes. Illinois carries the inglorious reputation of imposing the #6 ranked tax burden on gasoline sales; 52 cents out of the cost of every gallon of gas in Illinois is tax.
The Illinois General Assembly could reduce gas prices across our state at the drop of a hat by eliminating the state sales tax on gasoline. It is estimated this would save you and your family upwards of 20 cents per gallon.
I know the pain of increased gas prices. As many families do, my wife and I spend a lot of time driving our four children to and from soccer and baseball practices, school and elsewhere, frequently having to stop to fill up the minivan along the way. Cutting the double tax on gas would greatly benefit families in the 6th Congressional District and across the State of Illinois.
While cutting the sales tax on gas is a short term solution we must stay vigilant in our pursuit of alternative energy sources and of increasing domestic energy production in the long-term. I have been focused on this effort in Washington.
As an original cosponsor of the Motorist's Bill of Rights, I will be helping to introduce legislation soon that includes a four-part plan to address our short-term gas price pressures and our long-term energy needs. This legislation will protect consumers from price gouging while respecting the free market and not resorting to price controls.
Second, the bill would increase refinery capacity by encouraging development of new facilities and aiding states to comply with environmental regulations. Also included is a provision to construct a public information campaign aimed at reducing consumption.
Finally, the likelihood of supply disruptions and price spikes would be reduced by reforming boutique fuel standards. Different parts of the country currently require different blends of gasoline, and this legislation would cap the number of mandated blends, and thus make motor fuel an increasingly transferable and portable commodity. By addressing both the supply needs and demand needs of our country, this legislation will result in welcome relief from the heightened costs we currently bear.
This is a helpful step that can be taken toward increasing domestic energy production, and a step that will bring us closer to a more secure homeland. While the financial pressure is real, we must not forget the security issue inherent in our energy concerns. In 1973, America imported 30 percent of its crude oil needs. Today, that number has doubled to more than 60 percent. Our increasing dependence on foreign oil threatens the economic security and stability of our country because of the hostile and unstable regimes that supply us.
Everybody is interested in alternative energy when prices are well over $3 per gallon. Energy prices are cyclical and we must continue to seek new sources of our energy when prices eventually recede. We face a complex challenge here, but I am looking forward to continuing to work in this promising time toward a responsible energy policy in Washington.