Speaker Madigan Blocks State Rep. Jeanne Ives Call for Property Tax Task Force

During a special summer session of the Illinois General Assembly, Rep. Jeanne Ives‘ (R-Wheaton) House Resolution 139 took to the Illinois House floor to ask why Democrats would block her call for a bipartisan task force:

The task force is to do this:

  • Study issues of assessment equity and fairness in the Illinois property tax system.
  • Make recommendations that will ensure accountable and efficient delivery of uniform and transparent property valuations for property tax purposes.

It isn’t big news that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) prevents bills he prefers not to have a hearing or to bfted on do not receive a hearing or get a vote. That has been the case for decades. An increasing number of over-burdened taxpayers are learning that what Madigan wants, he gets.

Why he wants Illinois in such bad shape is anyone’s guess.

This headline from Greg Bishop at the Illinois News Network might give us a hint as to why HR 139 is not getting a hearing or vote: Madigan offers new demands, says property tax relief part of ‘extreme right-wing agenda.’

Speaker Madigan calls property tax relief “extreme.” Does Rep. Ives’ recommendation for a task force sound “extreme” to you? It is interesting to note that her resolution is co-sponsored by 22 of her legislative colleagues, including three Democrats.

In calling for the task force, here is the opening “whereas” to HR 139:

WHEREAS, Taxpayers in the State of Illinois are faced with high taxation; the weight of property taxes, and the process by which they are applied is one of the most burdensome concerns facing Illinois homeowners, and thus there needs to be an investigation into ways by which Illinois government can bring about necessary relief to homeowners across the State…

The numbers don’t lie — the tax burden in Illinois is too heavy. You can read about the numbers in these recent articles from the Illinois Policy Institute:

Illinois Has the Highest Overall Tax Burden in the Nation
A new report from WalletHub finds Illinois’ combined state and local tax burden is higher than that of every other state and the District of Columbia.

Illinois Property Taxes Highest in the U.S., Double National Average
Illinois homeowners are struggling under the weight of the nation’s highest property-tax bills, according to a new analysis.

Homeowners in Collar Counties Pay Highest Property Taxes in Illinois
Residents of Chicago’s collar counties pay the highest property taxes in the state – and some of the highest in the country.

A Property Tax Freeze Isn’t Enough
One in six Illinois homeowners are seriously underwater.

Face It: Property Taxes are Forcing Illinoisans Out of Their Homes
Nearly half of respondents said they would like to leave the state, including almost two-thirds of millennials.

Illinoisans are over-taxed and many are choosing to leave the state. Taxes continue to hinder job growth here which leads to the worst growth rate in the Midwest while having the largest unfunded liabilities.

But Rep. Ives’ task force resolution can’t even be brought for a vote.

When a task force can’t be approved, it is tough to see how a genuinely honest conversation can start about why property taxes and the state’s unfunded liabilities are so high.

Again, I’ll refer you to the Illinois Policy Institute for more information:

Illinois Owes Over $250 Billion in Pension Debt
Moody’s Investors Service cited Illinois’ $250 billion in pension debt and the lengthy budget impasse as reasons for its one-notch credit downgrade.

Speaking to the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Policy Institute’s Ted Dabroski said that Illinois is in dire need of the “boldest reforms” for the pension problem. He also discussed what might be constitutional and approved by the state’s supreme court.

Dabroski is correct about the need for boldness. This, in my view, is what has to happen: The system needs to be cut off from taxpayers and the government should get out of the pension business. State and local governments have proven that they cannot be trusted with tax dollars to fund pensions for government employees.

The “boldest” approach would be to begin to grapple with reality. The math cannot be made to work, and the Illinois Supreme Court cannot perform a revenue-increasing miracle to make it work.