At the end of the 2019 spring session, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1932 to create the Property Tax Relief Task Force. Sounds like a great idea, right?
Without a doubt, the issue I hear about most from residents is the crushing property tax burden that is driving friends and families out of Illinois. I know I’m not the only General Assembly member hearing this from constituents.
So, when Gov. Pritzker signed SB 1932 in August to officially create the task force, you would have thought there would have been some serious interest in getting something done. But once again, another task force has been a waste of time.
Did I mention why the task force was created in the first place? The Property Tax Reform Task Force was created because certain members of the House Democratic Caucus publicly stated they required it in exchange for their “yes” vote on SJRCA 1, the Graduated Income Tax Constitutional Amendment. So, I hate to say it (only slightly tongue in cheek), it was a protection deal for Democrat members whose votes were needed on a bill to raise taxes.
Frankly, I’m not surprised this ridiculously large 88-member task force missed the initial report deadline of October 31, 2019, and the final report deadline of December 31, 2019. I’m also not surprised the draft of the final report was only provided to members a few days before the deadline and almost completely ignored Republican ideas. Fact-based ideas to lower property taxes through local pension reform, mandate relief, increased transparency, consolidation and resource sharing among local governments to drive down costs. More than 20 ideas were summarily dismissed.
I’m not surprised because the task force was never intended to be serious. It’s another perfect example of the utter uselessness of task forces. In fact, our state’s history is one failed task force after another because the simple fact is they are not really about getting anything done, but placating General Assembly members so they can look good at home and then keep quiet for the Speaker and his cronies to continue to run business as usual.
Here is some proof going all the way back to Senate Joint Resolution 10 in 1975 and eight more failed times since:
1982 – the Tax Reform Commission;
1995 – the Equity 95 Property Tax Classification Task Force;
1997 – the Electric Utility Property Assessment Task Force;
1998 – the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Property Taxes;
2004 – the Property Tax Task Force under House Resolution 917;
2008 – House Resolution 527 – which instructed the Revenue & Finance Committee to conduct an investigation into ways to improve property tax assessment practices;
2009 – the Property Tax Reform and Relief Task Force (sound familiar?); and
2018 – the TIF Reform Task Force.
Taxpayers deserve better.