Gas prices continue to rise; “Shrinkflation” hits stores

Average gas price passes $5 per gallon, legislation to help is still stuck in committee

A few days ago Illinois joined a handful of other states which now have average statewide gas prices of more than $5 per gallon. This information came from the findings of a gas prices survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Prices are high everywhere in the country because of bad federal energy policy, but Illinois prices are higher than other states in part because of an additional tax which we charge on every gallon of gas.

Earlier this spring I told you about our bill to help bring down prices in Illinois. House Bill 5723, which I am sponsoring along with more than 30 other representatives, would cap the sales tax on a gallon of gas at 18 cents. Right now Illinois is one of the few states which levies a sales tax on the cost of a gallon of gas: the more the price of the gas goes, the more the sales tax goes up. Our bill would put a ceiling on the rise in this sales tax so that it would stop increasing during times like these.

Unfortunately, even though the bill was introduced three months ago, it was sent to the House Rules Committee and has not been allowed to have a hearing or a vote. Meanwhile Illinoisans continue to get hit with higher gas prices while state government refuses to act.

“Shrinkflation” hitting consumers at the grocery store

We’ve talked a lot about the inflation which is causing prices to skyrocket in Illinois and across the country, but there is another side effect of these high prices which is causing shoppers to feel they are not getting their money’s worth at the store: something known as “shrinkflation.”

Due to inflation, some manufacturers are offering smaller sizes of products, but charging the same price as before. These shrinking sizes have been seen at the grocery store for such items as chips, snacks and yogurt, but also such items as tissues, toilet paper and soap. As inflation remains at 40-year highs, this problem is only getting worse. Some analysts are citing the rising cost of diesel fuel as one reason, as marketers try to make up the difference from higher costs all along the supply chain. Illinois charges an excise tax on diesel fuel, plus that sales tax I mentioned above.

Caterpillar headquarters to leave Illinois for Texas

A large company which has been a bedrock of the Illinois economy for decades announced this week that it is moving its headquarters to Texas. Caterpillar, which employs thousands of Illinoisans, says the move only applies to the 230 workers at its headquarters in the Chicago suburbs and that none of its manufacturing facilities in the state will be affected. This news follows the announcement a few weeks ago that Boeing is moving its headquarters from Chicago to northern Virginia.

This is just another sign that Illinois needs to improve its business and tax climate. We cannot continue to have large employers leave our state for more business-friendly destinations. Improving our job creation climate must be a priority for state government.

Gibson City Lions Club celebrates 100 years

Congratulations to the Gibson City Lions Club as they celebrated 100 years of service to the community with a wonderful program Saturday evening. Many clubs joined in on the celebration. I was glad to present a Certificate of Recognition from the General Assembly on behalf of this wonderful achievement. Dr. Hagan provided a humorous perspective on how much this organization has supported groups and individuals in the community over the years.

President Roger Cramer and members Dr. Doug Schultz, Dan Kearfott, Steve Hawthorne and Dr. David Hagan, led by Bill Flick, shared a number of memorable stories from over the years that brought back fond memories and many smiles. Congratulations to all the award winners. It was good to see long time Lion Doug Hager. 

Congratulations Lions and thank you for all you do to support our communities.

Dolostone is Illinois’ new state rock

At the start of the legislative session this year a group of middle school students from Naperville and Burr Ridge presented a proposal to designate dolostone as the official Illinois state rock. Dolostone is used in many different construction projects and is mined in large amounts here in Illinois. One of the largest quarries for the rock is found along Interstate 80 just to the northeast of our district. Dolostone has been used in many important projects, including the construction of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

The students’ legislation was signed into law this month. I thank these students and their teachers for bringing an interesting idea to Springfield to help promote one of Illinois’ natural resources, and congratulate them on getting their bill through the legislative process.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $2,966,762,845 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $3.4 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $141 billion.

Did You Know?

If you had cereal or coffee for breakfast this morning you might have sampled a brand started by early 20th century Illinois businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post. Born in Chicago in 1887 Post took over the family cereal business when her father died in 1914. She helped promote not only products like Grape Nuts and Post Toasties but also Maxwell House coffee. Her company invested heavily in a food innovator named Clarence Birdseye who revolutionized the frozen food industry.

More news from around the state

Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan passes away at 76

Illinois Emergency Management Agency warns of dangerous heat and humidity

Water users urged to avoid algal blooms

Amount of Illinois unemployment fraud still unknown

Deadline approaching for ‘Cream of the Crop’ photo contest