(The Center Square) – While Gov. J.B. Pritzker is promoting a proposed property tax rebate, there are issues being ignored that are compounding taxpayer costs for local governments, like increasing pension liabilities, the governor’s Republican critics say.
Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. The impacts on taxpayers are compounded by record-high inflation across all sectors.
Pritzker has been touring the state touting his proposed $1 billion of temporary tax relief. That includes freezing the annual gas tax increase and freezing the tax on groceries. In Decatur Wednesday, Pritzker pitched his proposed property tax rebate he says will double the tax deduction for nearly two million Illinois homeowners.
“It’s called the Illinois Family Relief Plan and it starts with immediate property tax relief, up to $300 to every eligible homeowner,” Pritzker said.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said that’s not going to make much of a difference with record high inflation.
“It’s not enough for him to say that we’re going to do a temporary property tax relief for Illinois citizens,” Durkin told The Center Square. “[Democrats have] the majority. If they really wanted to do something with the property tax system, make it permanent with some sort of property tax reform, they can do it.”
Durkin said Republicans have for years promoted a variety of ideas to control or lower property taxes in Illinois and are willing to negotiate with Democrats and the governor.
Pritzker said Wednesday his proposed increase of $350 million in state spending for K-12 education will help alleviate some of the property tax burden, but notes more needs to be done.
Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole was with Pritzker in Decatur Wednesday and said getting the state budget stabilized will help control local costs.
“Property taxes for cities and villages are a small portion of their budget, but having the state budget stabilized with more resources available to them eliminates the need for them to put more unfunded mandates on local governments,” Cole said.
There’s also the recent public safety pension consolidation law Cole said will help with costs in the long run.
Down the road in Springfield Tuesday, Alderman Ralph Hanauer said decades-old pension sweeteners mandated by the statehouse are driving up local costs.
“At one point we were 80% funding, 70% funding, and with the stroke of a pen we went to 40%,” Hanauer said.
The state changed required benefits with a Tier II pension in 2011, but Tier I pensioners are still driving up costs with 3% compounded annual increases and free retiree health care.