Illinois House Puts the Bottle Cap on Property Taxes

by Chicago Agent

A bill working its way through the Illinois House would halt property tax increases for home's that loss value.

The Illinois House has approved a Senate bill that would prohibit cities, counties and other local government bodies from raising property taxes on homeowners for years when the assessed value of their home declines, according to a Chicago Real Estate Forum report of the vote.

Passing by a 74-39 margin, the bill would only allow such property tax increases if voters approved the measure in a referendum.

According to the Forum’s report, the bill was backed by Jack Franks, a Democratic state representative from Marengo who originally presented the bill in November, when it was defeated in a 34-73. Franks said the bill is intended to protect middle-class taxpayers.

The bill, however, it still not law – it must now make its way through the Illinois State Senate, where the Forum article predicts it will face “major opposition” from school district, firefighters, police officers and teachers, all segments of the local public sector that count on property taxes for their funding and salaries.

Also worth considering is if a property tax reduction would have short-term benefits but long-term costs for local governments, the problem that has befallen numerous California local governments after the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.

As the Forum article noted, the timing for the bill was coincidental, considering it game a day before Governor Pat Quinn’s sobering budget address before the Illinois General Assembly, where he announced numerous cuts to state prisons, welfare offices and healthcare agencies to reduce Illinois’ mounting deficits.

“The truth is that over the past 35 years, too many governors and members of the General Assembly have clung to budget fantasies rather than confronting hard realities, especially when it comes to our pension and Medicaid investments,” Quinn said in his address. “Today I am proposing a budget that includes serious spending reductions and major reforms in order to restore fiscal stability to our state and build and grow our economy. Today, our rendezvous with reality has arrived.”

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