PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The Illinois state budget Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law Tuesday looks to provide relief for taxpayers, including a one-year suspension of the state tax on groceries, a freeze on the gas tax, meaning it can’t go any higher regardless of if prices rise at the pump and a property tax rebate of up to $300 dollars.
In addition to that, many Illinoisans will receive a $50 stimulus check, with an extra $100 dollars per dependent for up to three dependents.
Democratic State Senator Dave Koehler said this budget is the best he’s seen in his 15 years in Springfield.
“We paid off all of our health care debt, we paid an extra half a billion dollars into the pension payment, that’s above our $9 million payment, and we still have a surplus,” said Koehler.
He said it’s in part because the federal government helped the state out quite a bit, but also because businesses are doing well again after being slammed by Covid.
On the other hand, Republican State Senator Win Stoller said he feels Illinois is on a “sugar high.”
Sen. Stoller said the state has an unusually high amount of revenue right now because of federal aid.
“And when that one-time windfall of additional revenue runs out, we’re gonna be left, trying to pay for larger government, that we increased the size of this year,” said Stoller.
Sen. Stoller also called many of the tax cuts “election-year gimmicks,” not permanent relief.
He cited the gas tax freeze is only a delay on a scheduled 2.2 cent-per-gallon increase on the gas tax.
“They are requiring every gas station in the state of Illinois to post a sticker on the gas pump, explaining that they’re delaying an increase of the gas tax, or the gas station will be faced with a $500 per day fine. Now if that’s not the definition of an election year gimmick, then I don’t know what is,” said Stoller.
Koehler said next year’s picture won’t look as pretty.
But he added that they were fortunate to be able to fund healthcare, education, mental health, and public safety initiatives this year.
“We’ve been able to fund all of those things, so now next year we have to come back and say, ‘how do we continue this,’ we’ve started some good things, and people have depended on those, our communities have depended on those programs, now how do we stretch our resources to make those things work,” said Koehler.
The law goes into effect on July 1, that’s the start of the new fiscal year for the state.