Illinois Lawmakers Spar over Property Tax Relief

Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country, which many people have blamed for the mass exodus from the state in recent years.

Last spring, the General Assembly established a bipartisan task force to tackle the issue.

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But the task force – and a draft report of its recommendations – are now being attacked by Republicans, who say their ideas and contributions have been ignored. 

Several House Republicans, including task force co-chair Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R-Westmont), held a press conference Wednesday to lambast the task force and its Democratic members.

“House Republicans brought forth dozens of ideas for property tax relief. Democrats controlling the task forces … either refused to consider them, refused to debate them, and summarily dismissed them,” she said.

But Democrats have pushed back on those claims.

“I don’t know how anyone could have been left out, and I’m not going to entertain that,” said Rep. Mary Flowers, (D-Chicago), citing the task force’s numerous subcommittees. “There were no doors that were ever closed to anyone, so my last word on this is that is not true.”

Mazzochi say a draft report issued by the task force was sent to Republicans on Dec. 23.

Its recommendations include consolidating some school districts and reforming certain rules for Tax Increment Financing, or TIFs.

“We need to tighten up that language,” Flowers said of TIF rules, “to make it plain and clear that it should be applicable to the communities that it’s supposed to be applicable to. Not the wealthy.” 

On her end, Mazzochi says some ideas that didn’t make it into the report include getting rid of all state mandates imposed on schools and municipalities, and looking broadly at pension reform. 

“Anything that can be done to make sure that our schools can operate more efficiently without mandates from the General Assembly that don’t actually lead to classroom benefits, we’re going to all wind out being better off,” she said.

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