File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to propose relief on grocery, gasoline and property taxes, amounting to approximately $1 billion, during his budget address Wednesday.

The governor said he’ll deliver the address in person, as opposed to remotely as he did in 2021 out of concern for spreading COVID-19.

State lawmakers are expected back Tuesday for their first session day since early January.

The Chicago Tribune reports the governor plans to offer tax relief totaling nearly $1 billion.

The relief could come by freezing the annual increase in gas taxes tied to inflation every July 1, as well as suspending the state’s 1% sales tax on groceries.

He also could offer property tax rebates up to $300. All actions would require approval by the state Legislature.

State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said it’s difficult to square up the governor’s dire warning of tight fiscal constraints when he promoted the failed progressive income tax in 2020 with what he could propose Wednesday, especially with the state’s $140 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $4.5 billion in unemployment trust fund debt.

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“If you ignore the unemployment trust fund [debt], if you ignore the pension debt, and you ignore the fact that this budget was $2 billion more and we’ve had a massive federal bailout, then I guess you can run around the state and say ‘we’ve done a fantastic job,’” Bryant told The Center Square.

For fiscal 2022, Illinois has forecast a surplus bigger than an earlier estimate, citing cost-cutting, the use of part of its more than $8 billion in federal taxpayer COVID-19 relief money, and higher revenue from sales and income taxes.

The timing of the governor’s proposed tax relief is interesting with it being an election year, Bryant said.

“I’d like to take the high road and say he heard the taxpayers of Illinois loud and clear and it is time to give some relief,” Bryant said.

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Bryant supported the doubling of the gas tax in 2019 to get funds she thought were needed for infrastructure projects, but she said that doesn’t mean spending irresponsibly.

“Hopefully, if we’re able to get some of this relief temporarily, then maybe they’ll take a play out of the Republicans’ playbook and make it permanent,” Bryant said.

From property taxes to sales and gas taxes, Illinois is regularly ranked by various surveys as among the highest taxed states in the nation.