What to do about property taxes? Gov. J.B. Pritzker asks a task force to figure it out

Written by Jamie Munks for the Chicago Tribune on 8/2/2019. Link to original article may be found HERE
Photo credit to Terrence Antonio James, photographer for the Chicago Tribune.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill Friday creating a task force to make recommendations on ways to alleviate the rising property tax burden on Illinois homeowners.

The bipartisan Property Tax Relief Task Force will “review the entirety of our property tax system, study best practices in other states and make short- and long-term recommendations” by the end of this year, Pritzker said in a statement Friday.

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, a Northbrook Democrat who sponsored the task force bill, called the property tax burden the “biggest issue” Illinois homeowners face.

“Rising property taxes are hurting home values and forcing seniors out of their biggest asset,” Carroll said in a statement. “I look forward to working with a diverse group of legislators on finding practical solutions without compromising our great communities and schools.”

While task forces can be black holes for any issue, there is some reason to believe this one could be more meaningful. Lawmakers this spring passed a measure putting the cornerstone of Pritzker’s agenda, a graduated income tax, before voters in November 2020. Pritzker vowed during his campaign for governor that if voters approved a constitutional amendment overhauling the state income tax he would use the proceeds to help alleviate property taxes.

Earlier this year, the Illinois Senate passed a measure that coupled the income tax constitutional amendment with a local school district property tax freeze. That measure, which would have frozen school district property tax rates if voters approved the constitutional amendment and if the state took on a larger share of the overall education funding in Illinois, didn’t make it into the final legislation Pritzker signed in June.

As the legislative session drew to a close without the action on property tax relief, the plan to create a task force to study the issue was introduced. Prior to that, Carroll had voiced opposition to the constitutional amendment going on the 2020 ballot.

Friday’s bill signing starts the clock on a 90-day window for the task force to submit an initial report to the governor’s office and the General Assembly.

Pritzker appointed Emily Miller, the first assistant deputy chief of staff for policy, and Cameron Mock, chief of staff in the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, to the panel. The four top legislative leaders will appoint other members to the task force.

“This task force is one of the first steps in that process and I’m confident that by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to talk about this issue, we’ll be able to work together to find the solutions we need, state Sen. Andy Manar, a downstate Democrat who also was a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.


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