McSweeney: Illinois should cut property taxes now

Property taxes in Illinois are too high and the longer we wait to address the problem the more our property taxes will go up.

According to the Tax Foundation, only the state of New Jersey has higher property taxes. It seems Illinois and New Jersey are in a fierce battle for the title of the state with the highest property taxes in the country.

Property taxes in Illinois are too high and the longer we wait to address the problem the more our property taxes will go up.

According to the Tax Foundation, only the state of New Jersey has higher property taxes. It seems Illinois and New Jersey are in a fierce battle for the title of the state with the highest property taxes in the country.

Citizens in Illinois are tired of the inaction when it comes to property tax relief. In fact, a statewide poll released in March by the Illinois Policy Institute showed 67 percent of Illinois residents support a permanent property tax freeze.

Everywhere I go, I constantly hear from constituents who are upset about property taxes. When I have constituents come up to me and point out how even a freeze won’t be the kind of relief they need because their taxes are so high, that tells me we must do more than just freeze property tax rates — we should lower them.

I have sponsored a measure (House Bill 1768) which would reduce property tax levies by 10 percent total (5 percent each year for two years) for all local governments, except school districts and community colleges. The non-school tax levies would then be permanently frozen at the new lower tax levies. My bill would also permanently freeze tax levies for school districts and community colleges.

I have voted more than 20 times in the House in recent years to freeze property tax rates. Earlier this year, the House approved property tax freeze legislation during the lame duck session of the Legislature.

In addition, I have consistently sponsored legislation (House Bill 347) to give voters the ability to dissolve local governments if they so desire. Not only do we need to cut property taxes and freeze property tax rates, but we also need to give citizens the ability to lower costs by eliminating the number of units of local government in Illinois. Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government. If we want to lower the cost of government, we need to decrease the number of local governments in our state.

We do not need to keep debating the issue and defining the problem. We know property taxes in Illinois are too high. We know that people are leaving Illinois in droves in part because the taxes are too high. More than 114,000 residents left the state from July 2015 to July 2016; the net loss was about 37,500 people once you factor in births and those who moved into the state.

Property tax rates are hurting working families and our senior citizens. They need relief. It is really that simple.

The longer we delay action on solving the property tax issue in Illinois, the more people are going to leave. The more people who leave Illinois, the higher the tax burden will be on those still living in the state. Taxes go up and people move out of the state. To make up the difference, taxes go up again and even more people leave. It is a vicious cycle we must break. We can’t keep raising taxes. It is time to lower property taxes and make Illinois a destination for jobs and opportunities.

The status quo is not working. We have billions of dollars of unpaid bills. Our credit rating is one notch above junk bond status. We have some of the worst pension debt in the nation. What about our current financial situation can be considered a success?

So why are continuing with the status quo?

We need more jobs that will create more taxpayers in Illinois. The time has come for both legislative chambers to send a property tax reduction bill to the governor for him to sign it into law. The legislature is in Springfield for a Special Session. It is time for the legislature to take decisive action on behalf of taxpayers in Illinois. Let’s end the cycle of tax increases and the mass exodus of people from Illinois by reducing and then freezing property taxes in Illinois.

— David McSweeney is a Republican from Barrington Hills who represents the 52nd District in the Illinois House.

 

 

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