* I think Gov. Quinn probably made the right move here…
Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday drew a hard line on negotiations with hospitals about how much free care they must provide to qualify for tax breaks, a contentious issue that has the state’s nonprofit hospitals on edge.
After talks between hospital and Illinois officials reached an impasse Wednesday, the governor lifted a moratorium on the state’s review of property tax exemptions sought by nonprofit hospitals for providing charity care.
The move clears the way for the Department of Revenue to resume conducting reviews on pending applications filed by as many as 18 nonprofit hospitals seeking property tax exemptions, a process Quinn halted in October after hospital groups complained that the process was flawed.
The governor’s decision comes after a group of hospitals and government administrators failed by his March 1 deadline to come to terms on new rules that determine how the state weighs whether nonprofit hospitals should pay property taxes.
I don’t think the hospitals anticipated that Quinn would lift the moratorium. Instead, there seemed to be a feeling that the talks would continue while legislation started to move through the system. The hospitals lined up Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne to sponsor their own proposal as the clocked ticked down on the negotiations deadline. But that move didn’t really intimidate anyone because Clayborne isn’t as powerful as some casual observers think. From the Illinois Hospital Association’s press release…
(W)e are extremely concerned that the Department of Revenue has been instructed to resume its decision-making process on hospital property tax-exemptions. The issuance of further rulings would be a distraction from the work that needs to be accomplished in developing a legislative solution over the next three months of the General Assembly’s spring session.
I don’t think it’ll be a distraction to anybody. More likely, it’ll focus their minds.
* I’m not sure I agree with most of the Trib’s editorial today because it’s my own personal opinion that property tax exemptions in exchange for charity care means that the charity should be a whole lot more than taking credit for paper losses. But I do concur with this…
The hospitals didn’t help their cause by failing to reach an agreement on charity care. Quinn is right to hike the pressure by restarting the reviews of their tax status. If they’re going to get a tax break, they should show they have earned it.