Lightfoot Announces Gas Card Lottery for Low-Income Residents

Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last Thursday that the city will begin a program intended to provide some citizens with relief from high gas prices through a $12.5 million lottery that will distribute prepaid gas cards.

A statement from the mayor’s office said that Chicago Moves will be offered to help fight spiking gas costs and rising inflation for “disadvantaged Chicagoans.”

The lottery created by the program is scheduled to begin on April 27 and will allow lower-income residents to sign up to be eligible for one of 50,000 prepaid cars worth $150 each. The lottery will also provide 100,000 cards worth $50 each that will pay for public transit.

Fifth Third Bank and Onbe are partnering with the city in the Chicago Moves program by providing the prepaid cards and covering processing costs for the program.

The mayor’s statement added that the “most vulnerable populations” have faced tragedy through the last two years of the pandemic. It added that with steadily increasing inflation now added to already existing economic hardships, the burden is heaviest for low-income persons. Lightfoot said the program will “endeavor to provide much needed relief and ease some of this pain.”

The mayor’s office had originally proposed to lift 3 cents per gallon from the city’s gas tax to relieve gas prices in the city but changed course last week to offer gas cards to qualifying residents who win a drawing. Lightfoot reportedly opted for the lottery process due to pressure from union leaders and some city aldermen who were concerned about lost city revenues from a tax break for all gas purchasers in the city.

Lightfoot stated that she believes subsidizing the costs of gas and transit will let poorer residents allocate resources to “other critical expenses.” Of course, the mayor did not make any statements about how adding to the demand for gas through subsidization as opposed to enacting gas tax relief will do anything to reduce gas prices in the city overall.

According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gas on Tuesday was $4.18. In Illinois, the state’s average price was $4.42 per gallon In the city of Chicago, it stood at $4.82.