Rauner Pushes For Long-Term Property-Tax Freeze, But Not all Republicans Agree
Gov. Bruce Rauner is touring the state, calling for lawmakers to pass “true, lasting” property tax relief.
The Republican says Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country. The 2.3 percent average tax rate across Illinois for 2017 was lower than only New Jersey’s 2.35 percent, according to Wallethub.com.
The state Senate passed a two-year freeze on local property taxes last month. But the governor says property taxes would skyrocket after the freeze expires, while lawmakers push for what he says would be permanent income- and sales-tax increases.
“To offer the people of Illinois only a two-year property tax freeze in return, that’s not fair,” Rauner said this week.
Rauner says he’s willing to do a four-year freeze.
The state mandates things like police and fire pensions and education funding at certain levels and requires local governments to pay for it. Communities use property taxes for such things because they are a dependable revenue source.
Rauner argues his proposal would not be detrimental to local governments.
“The people of Illinois, the homeowners, could do a referendum if they wanted to raise or lower their taxes,” the governor said.
But Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, also a Republican, is among those who say a property tax freeze would not address the state’s biggest issue.
“It doesn’t add a dime of revenue to the state revenue stream. It’s not going to help them do anything to balance their budget,” Ardis said.
Ardis says the state might see new business growth if it could put as much emphasis on resolving the budget crisis as it is on property tax relief.
Illinois has not had a state budget for almost two years as Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly disagree over how to pay for state services and a growing backlog of state bills.