The city council in Champaign is poised to approve a new tax on gasoline.
Champaign residents can't claim they weren't warned about the city council's plan to raise gas taxes by four cents a gallon.
The proposal, initiated by Council Member Thomas Bruno, has been on the drawing board for a couple of months. Council members had planned to pass the proposal in November, but absences from the nine-member council forced a delay until Tuesday.
So opponents of the plan have had plenty of time to make their objections known, and many have taken advantage of the opportunity. Members of both the Champaign-Urbana Fuel Retailers and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce have bent council members' ears on the subject, but Bruno said he believes he still has the votes to pass it.
There's no question that the city could use the estimated $1.5 million the new tax would raise to fix local streets. But it's our hope the council rejects this idea.
It's not just that the tax is regressive. The biggest problem with the tax is the timing. Illinois and the rest of the United States is in the midst of a very slow recovery that has left too many people unemployed and too many others staggering under the weight of their financial obligations.
Among the many problems people face is the high cost of gasoline. Bruno may well be correct that given $3.50 to $4-a-gallon gasoline a 4-cent tax hike is not a significant percentage increase. But it's still an increase that many people cannot afford.
Further, why should the needs of government always be put ahead of the needs of the citizens the government is supposed to serve?
All the arguments — pro and con — have been made before. All that's left is for citizens to express their final objections to council members before the vote on Tuesday.