Republicans in the Illinois House blasted the property tax task force last week for their final draft report that they said failed to include any of their proposals. The task force was formed last year in order to find some answers to lower Illinois property tax woes, which rank as the highest in the nation. Yesterday, at the Illinois Capitol, some GOP representatives held the third press conference on the issue to let citizens know that House Republicans are still pushing for their proposals before the General Assembly goes back into session in two weeks.
Sangamon County representative Tim Butler said the task force was flawed from the beginning: “There really were no parameters set with this 88-person task force. I’d like to remind people of why this task force was created. A few members of the majority traded their votes for the progressive income tax to have [this] task force empaneled to study the issues surrounding property taxes. I wish I could say I am surprised at what has happened so far. Frankly, I am not. We have only had 3 overall meetings of the task force. There has been multiple sub-committee meetings. Having an 88-person task force is kind of ridiculous.”
Butler doesn’t believe that the Democrat majority isn’t serious about fixing the issue: “I think every member here today in the General Assembly hears on a daily basis the concerns that our constituents have on property taxes. It’s not a Democrat issue. It’s not a Republican issue. It’s an issue we have across every single district here in Illinois. I wish the majority would be serious about working with us on how to work to get to the bottom of fixing it.”
Springfield Representative Mike Murphy says that Springfield needs to get out of the way of local municipalities. “The Democrats are so determined to push the narrative that the state needs more revenue to fix the property tax problem instead of recognizing the most basic and fundamental thing that we need to do. We need to get out of the way of our local government bodies. Over the past several years, the state has been averaging 8 unfunded mandates per year for municipalities and 6 for school districts. How can we expect local governments to create cost savings that lower the property tax burden when the state, led by the General Assembly Democrats, keep mandating new and costly programs year after year?”
Murphy says that the state needs to get serious about fixing the way it spends money. “Let us also not forget that the state has to fulfill the commitment to local communities to be the primary funder of our schools. We are never going to have that happen until we get serious about reforming state finances. Every year, the audit commission finds millions of dollars are wasted. The Democrats of the General Assembly have never joined the Republicans in policy suggestions to cut that amount of waste. In fact, they keep passing bills to spend more money without coming up with a way to pay for it.”
The draft report that has circulated among lawmakers has called on the state to take on the large chunk of public school funding, extending the state sales tax on various services, and consolidation of some taxing bodies and school districts.