As lawmakers prepare to mirror a Chicago tax on shopping bags, a state Representative from the Windy City said it will hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
State Sen. Terry Link, D-Indian Creek, sponsored Senate Bill 1240, which would add a 7-cent tax to all single-use bags, paper and plastic. That’s similar to what Chicago already has in place.
State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, said he’s seen the bag tax in action in his jurisdiction and it hits the poor and the elderly the hardest.
“If you walk out of a grocery store and you spend a hundred dollars and they’re double bagging, that’s gonna start to add up to be real money,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe also said lawmakers should expect a strong reaction from taxpayers if the bag tax goes statewide.
“When Cook County went through that soda pop tax and people got outraged, you’ll see that outrage throughout the state and the suburbs as the people in the city of Chicago are already outraged,” McAuliffe said.
In 2017, Cook County’s soda tax was repealed after only about two months of it being in place. The city still has a tax on plastic bags, though, and is one of only a handful of cities across the country that has such a ban.
Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Rob Karr said the group can get behind the proposal, with some changes, because it will restrict local bans or taxes on other things.
“So you will not have other jurisdiction able to regulate other products whether it’s straw or cups or styrofoam containers,” Karr said. The measure also recognizes the carrying and transaction costs for retailers, Karr said, by giving retailers and wholesalers a cut of the tax.
“It takes in our view the right approach, if you’re going to do it,” Karr said.
Link’s bill made it out of committee to tax paper and plastic bags at 7-cents a pop, but he promised an amendment to bring it in line with the governor’s plan of only taxing plastic bags at 5 cents a pop.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year relies on $20 million from a 5-cent tax on plastic bags.