Property tax freeze not the route to reform in Illinois, policy pro argues
Freezing property taxes is nothing close to a panacea for what is plaguing Illinois, according to Patrick Hughes, co-founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project.
“We have [one of the] the highest property taxes in the nation, and we’re going to lock those in," Hughes said on a recent airing of the radio program "Illinois Rising." "Here’s the dirty secret: That’s only half the problem. The other half of the property tax problem here in the state of Illinois is who is assessing the property. The issue is, you can lock in the rates all you want -- you can lock in the freeze all you want -- but there’s still different assessments going on based on the value of houses. All these assessors have to do …is go in and reassess property at an artificially higher value … and you can still get increased property taxes even though you have a freeze.”
Hughes co-hosts with Dan Proft, who is a principal of Local Government Information Services (LGIS), which publishes this publication.
Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the nation after New Jersey, and many experts have blamed them for the mass exodus of jobs, businesses and people from the state.
On June 28, the Illinois House failed to pass a property tax freeze in an effort to provide some measure of relief. A freeze was one of the reforms demanded by Gov. Bruce Rauner as part of his drive to impose serious reforms in the state.
However, Hughes argues that the system is broken and a freeze does nothing to fix it or offer any relief to taxpayers.
“That’s what I am so upset about [with Rauner] … it’s the idea that you’re selling something, and you’re telling your voters and the populace that they’re getting something that they’re not really getting,” Hughes said. “That, to me, is a little disingenuous to get a budget deal.”
Hughes asserted that the failures of compromise and bipartisanship has led Illinois to its current financial situation in which it finds itself with massive debt and failing credit ratings, and sitting at the bottom in “every quality of life metric.”
“Rauner has been there 18 months, and he has allowed them to hang all of that failure around his neck,” Hughes said. “[Rauner has allowed them] to make him a partner -- to make him complicit -- in failure that he wasn’t part of.”
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