Pritzker forms task force to reduce property taxes
Guv signs bill on what could be a critical issue for his ‘fair tax’
By Ted Cox
The governor signed a bill Friday to create a task force assigned to find ways to relieve overburdened homeowners on property taxes.
The issue could be key to passing what Gov. J.B. Pritzker has referred to as a “fair tax,” a progressive income tax, as it goes before voters next year in an amendment to the state constitution.
“During this legislative session, I committed to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to convene a task force where they can engage in conversations about how to reduce the burden of property taxes felt by homeowners," Pritzker said in signing a bill into law creating the Property Tax Relief Task Force. "This bipartisan, bicameral property-tax task force that will review the entirety of our property-tax system, study best practices in other states, and make short- and long-term recommendations by the end of the year. Together, we'll ensure our children receive the quality education they deserve even while we provide more property-tax relief for our homeowners and make our system more fair for everyone.”
Pritzker has touted a graduated state income tax as a way toward what has long been called the “grand bargain” in Illinois politics — providing relief on property taxes assessed by county governments by increasing the state share of education funding so that it finally fulfills its constitutional mandate to be the “primary” source of school revenue.
The state Senate passed a bill earlier this year tying the progressive income tax to a property-tax freeze, but it failed to clear the House. Instead, the General Assembly passed the bill creating the Property Tax Relief Task Force, to be made up of appointees by the governor and the leading Republicans and Democrats in both chambers.
This is not expected to be a do-nothing task force operating only in an advisory capacity. It will be charged with delivering an initial report in 90 days and complete its work by the end of the year with proposals to relieve property taxes, no doubt with the help of the $3 billion in added revenue expected from the graduated income tax.
State Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill led passage of critical reforms in the state’s funding formula on public education, and he’s a former chairman of the Macoupin County Board, so he understands the issue from both sides. “We've made great strides toward fixing our school funding formula, and the next step in that process is reducing the property-tax burden and transitioning toward making state funding the predominant sources of support for schools," he said in a statement accompanying a news release from the Governor’s Office. "This task force is one of the first steps in that process, and I'm confident that by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to talk about this issue, we'll be able to work together to find the solutions we need.”
“We've made great strides toward fixing our school funding formula, and the next step in that process is reducing the property-tax burden.”
State Sen. Andy Manar (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
Calling it “the biggest issue homeowners face in our state," Rep. Jonathan Carroll of Northbrook said, "Rising property taxes are hurting home values and forcing seniors out of their biggest asset. I look forward to working with a diverse group of legislators on finding practical solutions without compromising our great communities and schools.”
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington will be appointing members of the task force, but he announced his firm opposition to the Pritzker fair tax earlier this summer, saying it “must be defeated.”
Pritzker immediately announced he’d be appointing Emily Miller, an assistant deputy chief of staff for policy and a former Better Government Association staffer, to the task force, along with Cameron Mock, chief of staff of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget and senior fiscal adviser to Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes.
According to the Governor’s Office, the task force will be charged with looking at property taxes through “a racial and economic equity lens,” much like the approach taken by the recreational-cannabis law that also passed the General Assembly and was signed into law.