(The Center Square) – Illinois has one of the highest gasoline taxes in the country, so now some Illinois lawmakers want to prevent the tax from increasing for two years.

The gas tax in Illinois is just over 45 cents per gallon and will increase to 47 cents in July.

“People that are having to drive to work that need some relief because clearly we know that inflation is eating into everybody’s budget,” said state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur.   

Caulkins said his proposal, House Bill 5852, is different from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to eliminate the grocery tax because communities around the state depend on that money to help run their governments. He also said freezing the gas tax won’t affect bridge and road projects around the state which are funded by the gas tax.

“This does not take any money out of the projects, we’ve got $5 billion in there,” said Caulkins.

In 2022, Pritzker’s plan for pausing a scheduled increase in the gas tax faced opposition, including from engineering companies that design road and bridge projects. Officials with the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois said pausing the automatic increase could have long-term consequences that could endanger funding for future transportation projects.

Illinois has had automatic annual gas tax hikes since 2019, when Pritzker and the General Assembly doubled it and built in automatic increases tied to inflation.  

Just six years ago, the gas tax in Illinois was 19 cents per gallon. Now Illinoisans pay the second highest gas taxes in the nation at more than 45 cents behind only California. 

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, the average driver in Illinois is paying nearly $200 more a year in gasoline taxes now than before Pritzker took office.