One year after legislation creating the Property Tax Relief Task Force was signed into law, little progress on this urgent issue means that instead of celebrating relief for Illinois’ over-burdened property tax payers, Senate Republican members of the Task Force are calling for a renewed focus on property tax reforms.
Senate Republican Task Force members include State Senators Jil Tracy (Quincy), Craig Wilcox (McHenry), Don DeWitte (St. Charles), Dale Righter (Mattoon), and Dan McConchie (Hawthorn Woods).
“Nobody will argue that there is a simple solution to property tax reform,” said Senator Tracy, who serves as a Co-Chair of the Task Force. “It is, however, vital that we make a concerted effort to find real, bipartisan reforms that reduce the burden on property tax payers in Illinois.”
Specific responsibilities of the Task Force included:
· Identifying the causes of increasingly burdensome property taxes across Illinois;
· Reviewing successful public policy strategies that create short-term and long-term property tax relief for homeowners; and
· Making recommendations about what steps Illinois government needs to take to provide property tax relief.
“While I certainly had concerns that this would be another case of ‘form a task force, hold a bunch of meetings, and develop recommendations that never come to fruition,’ I still went into this process with an open mind hoping for a robust dialogue on this issue that is so critical to so many in our state,” said Senator Wilcox. “It is unfortunate that a year later, my fears have proved true and we’re still without any substantial property tax reform at a time when Illinois families need it more than ever.”
The Task Force was split into seven subcommittees, each tasked with examining a specific area of property tax reform. These subcommittee topics included PTELL and local government tax levies, TIF districts, local pensions, school funding and school property taxes, social and economic disparities, assessments and exemptions, and government consolidation.
The Task Force, which includes appointees selected by the Governor and legislative leaders, was to work with the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and the State Board of Education to take a deeper look at Illinois’ property tax system and develop recommendations for reforms. In total, the group was comprised of 56 State Representatives, 30 State Senators, and two members appointed by Governor J.B. Pritzker.
“At the end of the day, a Task Force that includes nearly half of the General Assembly and no stakeholders from the community is unlikely to produce the kind of results our state so desperately needs,” said Senator DeWitte, who serves as a Co-Chair of the Task Force.
The Task Force was also required to provide an initial report outlining administrative, electoral and legislative changes to be submitted to the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly within 90 days, and a final report by December 31, 2019. Neither of these reports were ever submitted.
“To have spent months attending meetings, only to have the Task Force devolve into partisan bickering was frustrating, to say the least,” said Senator Righter.
Senate Republican members of the Task Force say it’s time to work together in a truly bipartisan fashion to address issues like consolidating redundant layers of government; TIF district reform; reforming the assessment and appeals system to ensure it is fairly and accurately applied throughout the state; and reforming the appeals process to ensure connected politicians and lawyers don’t profit off the convoluted property tax system in Illinois.
“The people of Illinois need more than smoke and mirrors,” said Senator McConchie. “They need relief.”