SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Governor J.B. Pritzker is traveling the state and staging press conferences at grocery stores to promote his proposal to freeze the one-cent grocery tax in the upcoming state budget.
“As much relief as we can provide, we should try to provide,” Pritzker said at a Schnuck’s in Springfield on Tuesday. “This is one year of relief in a moment when you’re seeing a lot of inflation.”
But that relief pales in comparison to the cost of inflation at the checkout counter.
The average American spent $387 per month on groceries before the pandemic in 2019, according to industry studies. Consumer surveys show grocery bills could climb to $611 per month in 2022.
Using that range, Governor Pritzker’s proposed freeze on the one-cent grocery tax would save shoppers roughly $46.44 to $73.32 per year, depending on how much they spend.
To put that into perspective, we filled half of a shopping cart full of random items that cost a total of $73. If a shopper spent their entire year of grocery tax savings on more groceries, they could afford to purchase one can of spaghetti sauce, a carton of cherry tomatoes, a loaf of bread, one packet of thick sliced bacon, two pounds of fresh strawberries, two bags of jalapeno-ranch chips, a bag of croutons, jars of peanut butter and jelly, one box of macaroni and cheese, and a bag of fresh apples.
One of Pritzker’s Republican rivals, Aurora mayor Richard Irvin, has called the tax break proposal an “election year gimmick” intended to “buy people’s votes.”
Illinois is one of only 13 states that collects a tax on food. State senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) called the grocery tax “one of the most regressive taxes.”
“This pause on the grocery tax is a real money that will give Illinois families a much needed break during this inflationary moment,” Turner said.