Illinois House GOP says property tax cut ideas were ignored
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois House Republicans argued Wednesday that they were left out of a review of the state’s burdensome property tax system and that their ideas for relief were dismissed.
But the Democratic author of the report replied that the preliminary draft is still undergoing editing and he’s waiting for the House GOP to respond with suggested changes, as the three other House and Senate caucuses have done.
The report, required by a state law signed last summer, recommends ways to reduce taxes on real estate in Illinois, which has the second-highest rate in the country.
It says Illinois’ 7,000 local government taxing bodies should be reduced through mergers, including school consolidation. It also says property value assessments should be standardized to ensure fairness, and rules for appealing assessments and granting tax breaks for redeveloped land should be tightened.
Task force co-chairwoman Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, an Elmhurst Republican, said at a news conference in Chicago Wednesday that GOP ideas weren’t included in the preliminary report Democrats drafted, and the ideas that did make it don’t go far enough.
“When you look at what they presented in the draft, you have to ask yourself are these Democrats serious about property tax reform? ... Hope for a substantive final report was diminished by the fact that there was little to no chance for members of the task force to debate, to contribute to a final product,” she said.
Among other things, Mazzochi said Democrats skipped GOP ideas on overhauling government pensions to save money; making tax bills easier to read, so that taxpayers know where their money is going; and creatinga partial school-tax exemption for seniors who no longer have children in public schools.
She said there was no discussion of the 220 curriculum or administrative requirements the General Assembly has imposed on local schools since 1992, which require local funding and which teachers and administrators often resist as unnecessary.
Rep. Sam Yingling, a Grayslake Democrat who compiled the preliminary report, said the committee in December instructed co-chairs to take the draft to the four caucuses in the General Assembly — House and Senate Democrats and Republicans — for suggested edits. He said he’s still waiting to hear from House Republicans.
“In order to address the magnitude of the property tax crisis, all four caucuses must be moving forward together,” Yingling said. “Everything is on the table, everything needs to be discussed and debated. ... If something is left out, they (Republicans) need to come back and say, ‘Hey, you need to add this or take that out.’”
Yingling had hoped to deliver a final draft to Gov. J.B. Pritzker by the Dec. 31, 2019 deadline, but he said that hasn’t happened because of the House Republicans’ delay.
Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor.