Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to make an announcement Thursday morning regarding "transportation assistance," which comes about a week after her administration said they considering a variety of measures to try to provide relief from high gas prices.
Lightfoot will join other city officials at 10:30 a.m. from City Hall.
Last week, the mayor's administration said that she will ask Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to explore whether companies are gouging consumers on fuel prices.
During a press conference last week, Lightfoot said that her administration is coordinating with the Chicago City Council on a variety of relief options, and that the finance committee is expected to discuss those measures in open session.
“Our team has been working diligently on a plan,” she said. “We’ve got to do our part at the city level to provide some relief for people that are struggling.”
However, the City Council’s Finance Committee abruptly canceled a hearing on Lightfoot’s plan to roll back the 3-cents-a-gallon increase in the city’s gas tax that was included in her 2021 “pandemic budget.”
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), chairman of the Transportation Committee, said he understood the mayor’s motives. But he argued that motorists needed “significant relief,” and that “cynics” would slam the idea.
“If it was me, I would probably not do it, to not feed into the cynicism of the public that you’re just doing something as a political stunt,” Brookins said.
Other alderpersons and union leaders also urged the mayor to steer clear of the temporary tax waiver, fearing it would deprive the city of sorely-needed revenue and, potentially, delay capital projects bankrolled by the gas tax.
As a result, Lightfoot has now all but abandoned the temporary waiver.
Instead, she’s talking about the commuting equivalent of guaranteed basic income. That is, offering gas cards to motorists and Ventra card credits to CTA riders.
Lightfoot said that high fuel prices, along with escalating costs of groceries and other items, are hurting consumers in a big way, and that she is asking Raoul to investigate the rapid escalation in gas prices that has occurred in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I’m going to encourage the Attorney General to look into this huge rapid escalation in gas prices,” she said. “I’m very concerned about gas gouging, and I’m not accusing anyone, but it’s worthy of the Attorney General to look at this, because the escalation is really pricing people out.”
As of Thursday, the national average price for a gallon of gas is $4.225, according to consumer group AAA. The state of Illinois has seen its average drop slightly, but it still remains above the national average at $4.463 per gallon.
Aside from the West Coast, Illinois has some of the highest gas prices throughout the country as of Thursday, AAA data shows.
In the city of Chicago, the average price of a gallon of gas is $4.843, about two cents lower than the record high price of $4.868 set Monday.
Currently, the city of Chicago charges $.08 per gallon of tax on fuel. Cook County also has a $.06 tax on each gallon of fuel, and the state of Illinois has a $.39 per gallon tax.