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Bailey argues lawmakers should have gas prices special session

Sen. Darren Bailey wants Illinois lawmakers to return to Springfield for a special session to...
Sen. Darren Bailey wants Illinois lawmakers to return to Springfield for a special session to address rising gas prices.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 5:29 PM CDT
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EFFINGHAM (WGEM) - Sen. Darren Bailey wants Illinois state lawmakers to return to Springfield for a special session to address rising gas prices. The Republican candidate for governor held a press conference at a gas station in Effingham Wednesday where regular gas is $5.19 per gallon.

Bailey said the current gas prices are devastating for working families and people on a fixed income. He argues Gov. JB Pritzker should have removed or suspended the state’s gas tax instead of freezing the cost of living adjustment for six months.

“Illinois has the second-highest gas tax in the country and working families pay the price for the lack of courage and conservative leadership in Springfield,” Bailey said.

The Xenia Republican says lawmakers should permanently roll back the state’s gas tax or at a minimum lower the sales tax on motor fuel. Bailey argues Pritzker chose campaign year theatrics with the gas tax freeze instead of genuine relief. He said it is an insult to Illinois families who deserve permanent solutions to crushing inflation and rising gas prices.

Bailey blamed Pritzker, Democratic lawmakers, and Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) for pushing to double the gas tax in 2019. Bourne is GOP gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin’s running mate.

The Democratic leaders from both chambers are not likely to call for a special session as lawmakers are busy campaigning before the primary election. Still, Bailey said he is ready to go to work so Illinoisans can drive to work with lower gas prices.

“When you have a reckless out-of-control governor and a party that has no desire to truly serve the people, this is what you get. So, it is truly a mess,” Bailey added.

Bailey and other Eastern Bloc lawmakers said no one should have to make choices between paying for food and paying for gas to get where they need to go. They believe the high prices are purely due to a lack of action by Democratic leaders in the White House and Springfield.

“The Office of the Speaker doesn’t comment on Republican primary fodder,” said Jaclyn Driscoll, spokesperson for Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. “But as Sen. Bailey knows, we’ve taken steps to freeze the gas tax and continue to explore additional opportunities for relief for families dealing with the effects of global instability.”

Bailey claimed people would be back in Springfield doing their jobs to help families more if he was the governor today. Pritzker addressed Bailey’s concern during an unrelated stop in Springfield Wednesday. The governor noted that the Russian war in Ukraine has caused the price of oil to jump over $1.50 on top of other inflation. Pritzker said Illinois is already providing relief to families.

“We’re providing hundreds of dollars in relief directly to families that they can use for precisely this purpose. They can use it for any purpose they want - groceries or something else,” Pritzker said. “We also, as you know, eliminated the grocery tax. But, we’re sending people directly hundreds of dollars. The average family will get a couple of hundred dollars and they’re able to use that in addition to the cessation of the increase in gas tax in order to pay for gasoline.”

Pritzker said he doesn’t think anyone expected to see gas prices get this high. He noted there are places in the country where gas is $6, $7, or even $9. The governor said there should be some cessation of the inflationary issue on gasoline, but it can’t happen fast enough.

Rep. Adam Niemerg (R-Dietrich) and Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City) joined Bailey in calling for a special session to tackle the high gas prices. They filed a proposal this spring to suspend the motor fuel portion of the gas tax. Niemerg argues the state has more than enough revenue to handle four months without the additional tax taking money away from families. House Bill 5732 has been locked in the House Rules Committee since March 28.

“The funds are there. It’s time to act for the people of the state of Illinois,” Niemerg said. “It’s time to put the people ahead of the politicians.”

WGEM News asked Bailey how he could try to put these solutions forward without Democratic support. Bailey claimed that “communicating to the people” is the best way to move forward. He wants Illinoisans to wake up and contact their elected officials demanding action to lower gas prices.

“This problem is unbelievably easy to fix,” Bailey said. “And unfortunately, election-year gimmicks are in the way and everyone is sitting on their hands.”

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