Wehrli sees Dems inching toward 'real' property tax reform
Democratic lawmakers took some baby steps toward property tax reform on Monday, but several Republicans said real reform is still too far out of reach for struggling Illinoisans.
“This morning, the House Democrats pushed out a bill out of Revenue and Finance, SB484, that while it is a good start, simply doesn’t go far enough at this point in time,” Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We are encouraged by the negotiations that continue to go on, but the need for real property tax reform and relief is evident throughout the entire state.”
SB484 represents an apparent compromise between Democrats and Republicans that would freeze property taxes everywhere except Chicago. The original text of the bill provided for only a two-year freeze on schools, and while revisions yielded to the Republican demand for a four-year freeze, they also removed a provision to allow voters to decide on property tax rates after the freeze ends.
That omission won't help Illinoisans, Sen Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) argued.
“If we go forward, and we are going to do something legitimately long term to try to rein in the number of local units of government and bring down taxes, you have to engage the local taxpayer,” McConnaughay said. “They have to be part of the conversation, and we need to include in this agreement … that we need to lower the threshold that allows local taxpayers to more actively engage in the policy decisions and the taxing issues that relate to their local units of government. This is a critical piece to this.”
Republicans previously proposed HB4066, which includes a complete freeze for all of the state and the resident-based referendum on property tax rates.
With the special session coming to a close by the end of the week, lawmakers are in crunch time to pass reforms and a budget. Wehrli said he is confident that progress will be made.
“I would like encourage both sides to continue to discuss property tax reform as part of an overall 'Capitol Compromise,'” Wehrli said.