|With property tax rates this high and residents fleeing the state, lawmakers representing these areas should seek to ease their constituents’ tax burden. But that hasn’t been the case.
The closest thing to property tax relief Illinois lawmakers brought forward in 2016 was House Bill 696, which would have frozen property taxes, but only for non-home rule taxing districts. And that’s a significant exception: Approximately 7.8 million Illinoisans, or roughly 60 percent of all state residents, live in home rule communities.
Several of HB 696’s co-sponsors represent home rule communities in the collar counties, including state Reps. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, who represents home rule municipality Glendale Heights in DuPage County; Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, whose district includes a home rule city in Will County; and Ron Sandack, a former Republican state representative who represented Downers Grove, a home rule village in DuPage County.
The bill passed the House 71-31, but never made it to the Senate floor.
A property tax freeze that excludes more than half the state’s population is not real reform. But a true, permanent property tax freeze for the entire state would be a positive step, especially for residents in the overtaxed collar counties. Unfortunately, so far in 2017, state senators have tinkered with only a watered-down, two-year property tax freeze, attached to multibillion-dollar tax hikes.
Lawmakers should know their constituents are looking for relief, and barring that, the exits. This is true across the state, but particularly in the collar counties, where the overwhelming property tax rates are pushing families out of their homes and out of the state.