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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2000

RYAN CALLS SPECIAL SESSION TO ADDRESS RISING GAS PRICES

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today called a special session of the General Assembly to convene on June 29 in order to provide temporary sales tax relief for consumers hit hard by the sharply rising gasoline prices.

Following a meeting with the four legislative leaders, Ryan said lawmakers are considering a proposal to temporarily roll back the state's 5 percent sales tax on gas. The special session is scheduled for Thursday, June 29. A formal gubernatorial order calling the special session will be issued later.

"I am concerned that the rising gas prices are hurting consumers and will have a negative impact on the economy," Ryan said. "A temporary repeal of the sales tax can provide some relief to consumers while we get to the bottom of how gas prices have become so outrageously high."

Recent studies indicate that high gas prices may siphon $1 billion from the state's robust economy through rising consumer prices and transportation costs.

The state's sales tax on gasoline is 6.25 percent of the pump price. The state 's share is 5 percent and the remaining 1.25 percent is distributed back to local governments.

On Tuesday, Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon temporarily suspended Indiana's 5 percent sales tax on gasoline for 60 days, effective July 1.

Under the Illinois Constitution, Ryan does not have the same ability as O'Bannon to suspend the Illinois sales tax on gas without legislative action.

Ryan has said the high gasoline prices being paid by consumers in Illinois are the result of new gasoline production rules ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to reduce smog. Ryan and other state officials warned that these production rule changes would likely cause price fluctuations in Illinois.

PROCLAMATION FOR SPECIAL SESSION

WHEREAS, during the month of June, 2000, retail gasoline prices have increased dramatically and disproportionately throughout Illinois and other Midwestern states, and in some portions of Illinois now exceed $2 per gallon; and

WHEREAS, these price increases are causing hardships on the citizens of Illinois, especially those on fixed incomes; and

WHEREAS, high retail gasoline prices could jeopardize Illinois' future economic growth and estimates show that high gasoline prices could drain approximately $1 billion from Illinois' robust economy through increased consumer prices and added transportation costs; and

WHEREAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has not responded to repeated requests to suspend new gasoline production rules, an action that the United States House of Representatives Committee on Science indicates would lower retail gasoline prices in Illinois by 25 cents to 50 cents per gallon; and

WHEREAS, federal action to determine the cause of these apparently unjustified retail price increases or an increase in oil production output by oil producing nations will come too late to help Illinois consumers cope with the current energy emergency; and

WHEREAS, energy experts cannot predict with any certainty whether retail gasoline prices will increase or decrease in the foreseeable future; and

WHEREAS, it is essential that some relief be granted to Illinois consumers immediately; and

WHEREAS, our bordering sister state of Indiana has acted to reduce retail prices by temporarily suspending some taxes on gasoline sales, which raises the possibility of similar action by our other sister states in the Midwest and threatens the competitiveness of Illinois retailers; and

WHEREAS, the 91st Illinois General Assembly is not scheduled to convene prior to November, 2000;

THEREFORE, pursuant to Article IV, Section 5(b) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I, George H. Ryan, Governor of the State of Illinois, hereby call and convene the 91st General Assembly in special session to commence on June 28, 2000 at 5:00 P.M., to address the fuel price emergency by considering Senate Bill 1310 for the sole purpose of temporarily suspending the state government's portion of the occupation and use taxes on motor fuel and gasohol for the period of July 1, 2000 until January 1, 2001.



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