Gov. Rod Blagojevich has promised to give an Illinois-based
airline some relief from high fuel prices. Meanwhile, millions of drivers in
the state paying more than $3 per gallon for diesel and gasoline are left
holding their fuel pumps.
To keep United Airlines from packing up and moving its
headquarters out of state, the governor has pledged to work with state
lawmakers to create an incentive package that would include a reduction in the
sales tax charged to the air carrier when it fills the tanks on its planes, The
Quad-City Times reported.
The announcement comes as the Democratic governor and party
leaders have turned back similar proposals to reduce the amount of sales taxes
the state charges truckers and other drivers when they fuel up.
The potential perk for United Airlines could come up for a
vote when state legislators return to the capitol after the November election, The
Times reported. If approved, it would be the second time in as many years
that Blagojevich has given a large company a break on fuel taxes while offering
truckers and other drivers nothing.
In August 2005, United Parcel Service was the beneficiary of
a law that allows the company to save up to $100,000 annually on fuel charges,
the newspaper reported.
The incentive package for the air carrier was announced
after the company dropped its threat to leave the state and instead move into
downtown Chicago. In addition to tax breaks from the city and the proposed fuel
tax break, taxpayers in the state will chip in another $1.35 million in grants
and assistance to the company, The Times reported.
Since fuel prices began their rise to current levels, state
government reportedly has received about $140 million in unexpected revenue
during the past fiscal year.
With that in mind, Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy
Baar Topinka is calling for a fuel tax holiday to provide some relief from pump
prices. Blagojevich has given no indication he would support such a proposal.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor