Chicago Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland has seen this play out too many times before.
“In Illinois, city government is like the neighborhood mobsters you see in the movies,” Cleveland told Chicago City Wire. “For every transaction you see, they want a cut out of it.”
Cleveland’s latest example is the way he sees the city muscling in to triple the tax on Uber and Lyft rides in downtown Chicago as of Jan. 1. With the start of the New Year, the tax on such solo rides in a special “downtown zone” will balloon from 72 cents to $3 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. weekdays.
Chicago Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland
Outside the downtown Chicago area, the tax on solo rides will increase to $1.25. Overall, the city projects the added taxes will generate up to $40 million annually.
“When you tax something too much, you get less of it and this means more people will be using private cars," Cleveland said. "Does the mayor really want this?”
Indeed, that would defeat one of the primary purposes Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has offered for imposing the tax, which is to alleviate mass congestion in the downtown Chicago area.
“This will only increase traffic because more people will now be using their private vehicles,” Cleveland countered.
In the end, Cleveland argues that Democrats pushing the added taxes are missing out on one key consideration.
“Democrats don’t understand that people aren’t required to be here in Illinois, and when taxes get too high they’ll leave,” Cleveland said. "The population loss we’ve been experiencing in this state will only accelerate.”
Meanwhile, city leaders insist a portion of the revenues generated from the raised taxes will go toward funding the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation. Some of the money has also been pegged to pay down the city’s $838 million deficit.