Bills would bring down Chicago building to prop up Chicago schools
If the lllinois state government wants to help public schools, it can do so by giving up some desirable space in the Chicago Loop, according to legislation introduced by two Republican leaders.
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) presented SB2209 and HB4044 in their respective chambers in the hopes of dedicating property taxes raised from the redevelopment of James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) to the city’s public schools.
"The JRTC is sucking up valuable space, time, and money," Gov. Bruce Rauner said. "No one likes working here. It's expensive to maintain, and it's a drain on taxpayer resources. The legislation introduced today gives us yet another reason to move swiftly in selling this building. Every day of delay just postpones Chicago's ability to earn millions in property taxes."
The JRTC encompasses an entire block, its upkeep has proven costly, and Radogno and Durkin say repairs and maintenance cannot be justified considering the potential revenue of the space.
“Selling the JRTC and directing all of the future property tax proceeds to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would benefit both Illinois and Chicago taxpayers," Durkin said. "The legislation would provide CPS with a stable source of additional revenue for years to come, and would let Illinois off the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs and maintenance costs on a dilapidated building we can no longer afford."
According to the minority leaders’ estimates, the property taxes for the JRTC could amount to $45 million a year and reach more $1 billion by 2040.
“This is a win-win, which will provide savings for the taxpayers of Illinois while at the same time providing a much needed economic boost to the City of Chicago,” said Radogno.
The building, which houses Illinois legislative offices, opened in 1985 and was renamed to honor former Republican Gov. James R. Thompson in 1993.