District 15 House hopeful sees taxes as equal-opportunity destroyer
Republican Amanda Biela has been out and about in Cook County at local events with constituents, particularly in Maine Township, during her campaign to unseat Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) and represent District 15 in the Illinois House.
With more than 100,000 residents, Maine Township has a lot of registered voters, and what Biela says she is hearing from both Republicans and Democrats is that they're fed up with taxes.
“It keeps coming back to taxation,” Biela told Chicago City Wire. “That's the central issue that people keep being concerned about. It does go across party lines.”
Biela mentioned the Cook County beverage tax as a particular thorn in the side of residents.
“People are incredibly upset about it,” Biela said.
Property tax, she said, is another issue that she has addressed in her policy positions, and one that continues to be a hot-button issue for Illinois residents in many counties.
Biela said people struggle with the financial reality of managing these large tax levies while feeling like all of the money going into municipal coffers isn’t really being managed well.
“People realize there are no reforms being made,” Biela said, describing door-to-door interactions with both Republican and Democratic voters. “The state is a mess.”
Biela also compared Illinois with its neighbors, particularly Indiana, and said that residents see lower property taxes and more efficient systems elsewhere, making them angrier.
“It makes it even more painful,” Biela said, blasting some politicians whom she said have been cavalier about being in power for many years, sometimes treating local areas as their own “personal fiefdoms” and leaving the people craving change.
Responding to questions about the recent education funding bill SB1947, Biela, a former teacher in Chicago Public Schools, said that she sees many elements of the bill as a good compromise. She also made it clear that she's not a proponent of full school voucher expansion and she supports local public schools.
“I think we have many good schools,” Biela said. “There are good things going on.”
One area where Biela said the state’s education system could use some improvement is in transparency: She described funding formulas as cryptic, and it's hard to see where money is coming from.
As for tax credit scholarship program created by SB1947, which has drawn the ire of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Biela said that it “will not ruin public schools.”
While CTU President Karen Lewis has said the bill has “created a tax shelter for the wealthy and a voucher program,” Politifact rated this claim only half true.
Biela said ultimately, what she is hearing from voters is that they want representatives who will look critically at taxation and try to mitigate the effect of high property tax bills in their neighborhoods.