Tonia Khouri with her family
Since it was announced in May, a plan floated by the Chicago Federal Reserve to create a statewide residential property tax-- adding another $2,500 per year to the bill of a $250,000 Illinois home-- has been furiously, publicly opposed by Republicans across the state.
Democrats have remained non-committal, holding their criticism of the tax hike proposal and strongly suggesting they would support it in 2019, when they expect to have unfettered control of the state, with super-majorities in the legislature and a J.B. Pritzker gubernatorial administration.
That includes Karina Villa, who has yet to issue a public statement about the statewide property tax and who, when asked her position by the Dupage Policy Journal, has repeatedly declined comment.
Tonia Khouri, Villa's opponent in the 49th House District, has campaigned against a statewide property tax, saying; “This has to be the dumbest idea I've ever heard from people who are obviously out of touch with what hardworking taxpayers are going through."
Homes cannot leave Illinois
The Fed’s statewide residential property tax proposal was floated as the only way to effectively raise enough money to pay off the state’s several hundred billion dollar pension debt.
That’s without instituting reforms that would eliminate the debt, like ending pension double-dipping, raising the retirement age, ending the automatic 3 percent cost of living increase, or requiring public pensioners to contribute more to their own retirements.
Currently, Illinois state workers, who save on average just $3 of every $100 they collect in retirement, can retire in their early 50s with a guaranteed starting pension of 80 percent of their salary. Cost of living increases mean all earn more in retirement than they ever did working.
The authors of the Fed proposal point out politicians like Villa, who support paying the pension debt in full are, by default, advocating massive tax hikes of one kind or another.
They argue they have only one option to raise the revenue: a statewide property tax.
“Assuming that the state can’t reduce its current pension obligations and that it wants to maintain its current level of services, Illinois residents are going to have to pay higher taxes,” wrote Fed authors Thomas Haasl, Rick Mattoon and Thomas Walstrum. ”Because the debt is so large, it’s unrealistic to think that new taxes (such as a tax on legalized marijuana or financial transactions) or increases that affect only a narrow segment of the population will be enough.”
Wealthy taxpayers can avoid higher Illinois state income taxes by moving out of the state, the Fed argued. Confiscating a portion of home equity from everyone who cannot pick up and leave is the only way.
The Fed projected it would take 40 years of a statewide property tax to pay off $130 billion worth of state pension debt, assuming property values triple over the same time period.
Property values in Illinois are 27 percent lower today than they were in 2008, according to Zillow.com. Many blame soaring property taxes for the home value decline.