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Fun with numbers

Monday, May 12, 2014

* From a PQ campaign press release…

A new poll today showing that 99% of Chicagoans don’t want higher property taxes confirmed a key principle of Governor Pat Quinn’s budget: Illinois over-relies on the property tax.

Governor Quinn is pushing a responsible and honest budget plan that would begin to reduce the state’s over-reliance on property taxes by properly funding education and sending every homeowner a guaranteed $500 property tax refund each year.

By contrast, billionaire Bruce Rauner is scheming to shift more of the tax burden to property taxpayers by cutting the state’s investment in education.

“It’s no surprise that Rauner - a self-proclaimed member of the .01% - would be scheming to do something that the 99% are strongly against,” Quinn spokesman Izabela Miltko said. “By cutting the state’s support for education, Rauner would preside over the largest property tax increase in Illinois history.

“It’s time to lower the property tax burden for homeowners across Illinois by properly funding our schools and sending every homeowner a guaranteed $500 property tax refund each year. The governor’s budget plan does just that.”

More than 2.1 million Illinois households would receive an annual $500 property tax refund under the governor’s budget plan, which also provides the largest increase in funding for the classroom in state history. Illinois collects more money in property taxes than the state’s sales tax and income tax combined.

* The poll didn’t say that 99 percent of Chicagoans don’t want a property tax hike. The somewhat oddly worded McKeon & Associates poll [ADDING: McKeon just called to say that the Sun-Times chose the question’s wording] merely allowed Chicagoans to pick their preference of new revenue streams

Offered four choices on ways Chicago could solve its $20 billion pension crisis, raising property taxes ranked dead-last, chosen by only one percent of the Chicago voters surveyed.

The favorite remedies on the list — both at 25 percent — were a “commuter tax” on suburbanites who work in Chicago and the transaction tax on LaSalle Street exchanges championed by the Chicago Teachers Union.

Running close behind — at 21 percent — was a city income tax. That’s somewhat surprising, since a city income tax would have to be paid by many of those polled.

The transaction tax is dead, as is the city income tax. The commuter tax isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And while the 1 percent favoring a property tax hike is newsworthy, there apparently were no follow-up questions about what voters actually thought of that prospect.

* Also, the governor’s proposed property tax rebate isn’t really a property tax rebate. It’s a $500 check to all Illinois homeowners - at a net new cost to income taxpayers of $700 million.

* And, as Rauner has noted before, education funding hasn’t been protected by Quinn in the past. So, is the governor, then, responsible for large numbers of school-related property tax hikes? And since the governor pushed the original income tax hike, which didn’t include money for local government revenue sharing, is he also responsible for their tax hikes?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Angry Republican - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    Are you sure the survey wasn’t commissioned by The Onion? http://www.theonion.com/articles/report-98-percent-of-us-commuters-favor-public-tra,1434/


  2. - Rob Roy - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    They had to take a pool to figure that out? Nobody wants to pay higher taxes on anything. And if anybody does, I am sure that they can do it voluntarily. Leave the rest of us out of it.


  3. - Responsa - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    ==“It’s no surprise that Rauner - a self-proclaimed member of the .01% - would be scheming to do something that the 99% are strongly against==

    Yeah, “scheming”. I burst out laughing at Izabela’s verbiage. Is it just me or are many political spokespeople these days really really bad at it?


  4. - Langhorne - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    rich, please dont go confusing things by dredging up facts and expecting consistency and logic. cut, cut, cut,increase. all that matters is the most recent year to year comparison, and whatever is in the most recent press release. MAP grant is a perfect example. look, shiny.


  5. - RNUG - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Tax thee and thee but not me!

    Not really surprising …


  6. - RNUG - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    On a more serious taxation note, here’s a logical / mathematical but not necesarily politically palatable scenario:

    Assuming “pension reform” gets tossed by the ISC, we can expect to see both the extension of the current temp income tax and a gradual cost shift of teachers (TRS) to the local districts, driving up the local property taxes. Then the local municipalities, to bail out their failing pension systems, will either further increase property taxes or increase local sales taxes.


  7. - Soccermom - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Here’s the reason I don’t support the property tax “rebate”: It does nothing to help renters, who tend to be lower-income. Those folks are paying property taxes as a chunk of their rent, but they won’t get the benefits of this.


  8. - PublicServant - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    Soccermom, the middle class needs help too.


  9. - abc123 - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Because pensioners pay no income tax, but they do pay property tax.


  10. - The Prince - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    However one defines the always nebluous “middle class” (definitions are legion) everyone needs help. Property taxes are so high in Illinois-Cook County especially-its basically like paying rent to the government to live in your own house. Plus, many higher-income people are now renting anyway because banks are not lending money like they once did.


  11. - Commander Norton - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    Don’t tax you, don’t tax me; tax the man behind the tree… commuting into the city.

    I agree about the renters, Soccermom. That’s why it’s a bit silly to say Quinn’s plan is a “secret Chicago pension bailout.” I don’t know what percentage of Chicago residents rent, but it’s got to be pretty high.


  12. - Wumpus - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    Soccermom, maybe their rent won’t increase as much


  13. - Hit or Miss - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    “Running close behind — at 21 percent — was a city income tax.”

    I for one do not see the difference in paying $100 a year in city income tax and paying $100 more in property taxes. Either way I am paying $100 more in taxes. A city income tax makes paying income taxes more complex and fails to reduce my total tax bill.

    A “commuter tax” on suburbanites who work in Chicago lets me keep my low tax rates and lets someone else pay part of the cost of the pension for those who work for me. Having someone else effectively pay what would otherwise be part of my taxes appeals to me.


  14. - Under Influenced - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    PQ of 2014…meet PQ of 2013:

    “Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to call for spending nearly 3 percent less on education as he unveils a new budget proposal Wednesday….

    The $278 million cut to elementary and high school funding would be at least the third straight significant annual reduction from state government to local school districts.”

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-06/news/chi-budget-to-call-for-spending-cuts-20130305_1_education-cuts-pat-quinn-quinn-administration


  15. - Soccermom - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    PublicServant — I didn’t mean “low, low income” — I just meant lower income than homeowners. I have rented over the years, as have most of the people I know. We were still classified as middle-class — just weren’t in a position to buy a home at that time. There are plenty of middle-class renters who won’t get any relief from this plan.


  16. - Soccermom - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Not surprised that WBEZ is all over this.
    http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn%E2%80%99s-tax-refund-plan-locks-out-most-illinois-renters-109939

    Apparently about half of the people who live in Chicago are renting. And it is off-point to talk about EITC — the issue here is the number of folks who have middle-class incomes and who are renting, not the folks at the lowest end of the income scale.


  17. - Soccermom - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    Wumpus, I can’t tell from the coverage, but I don’t think this rebate would apply to rental units. Usually the term “homeowner” refers to a single owner-occupied unit. So there would be no relief to pass along to renters, even if landlords were feeling generous. (And in a 12-flat, for example, a $500 payment would be about $3.50 a month per unit… So not terribly helpful in any case.)


  18. - PublicServant - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    Renters didn’t take the financial hit that homeowners took when housing prices collapsed, Soccermom. I’m fine with the help being targeted to homeowners. Renters can move. Underwater homeowners, can’t sell unless they want to realize sometimes huge losses if they sell now, and that banking bailout didn’t trickle down to homeowners either. As relief to a targeted group of individuals, I’m fine with homeowners being that target.


  19. - Walter Mitty - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    To The Post:
    Quinn is Toast.


  20. - OneMan - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Yet again the popularity of my TOP (tax other people) plan shines….


  21. - A guy... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Izabela isn’t quite ready to wordsmith at this level. Or she’s a human shield. Either way, this is a patsy move.


  22. - Seeker - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    Renters didn’t take the financial hit that property owners did so that means the property owners should get a tax break?
    Good post actually because it shows the mentality of Illinois elected officials.


  23. - phocion - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    A commuter tax, eh? I’m sure the struggling suburban office parks are salivating at the prospect. Just as Chicago is starting to attract some big and not so big corporation from the suburbs to the City, along comes a tax that would make the move economically unattractive. Of course city residents want to tax someone else for their obligations. Consequences? Who cares?!


  24. - Soccermom - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 12:15 pm:

    PublicServant — I understand the impact of the housing collapse. Our own home, Downturn Abbey, just recently appeared above the waterline.

    But here’s the thing: In River Forest (which is hardly considered a solid middle-class community) half of the homeowners will be getting a check — even though the median household income is about $114,337 — more than twice the state median. I don’t think you want to create a situation where a middle-class renter in Chicago is paying more in income tax to give relief to a homeowner in River Forest.
    http://www.city-data.com/city/River-Forest-Illinois.html

    And let’s remember that a lot of today’s renters were yesterday’s homeowners; I would certainly argue that someone who lost a house to a short sale or foreclosure was way more affected by the downturn than someone who has lived in a home for 20 years and whose mortgage is relatively small.

    Frankly, I’d rather see this money directed to school districts — with some strings so it’s not squandered on top administrators’ bloated salaries.


  25. - Jacob S - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    The entire tax code is so complicated and convoluted as is.

    It won’t happen but what reLly needs to happen is a complete overhaul of the entire tax structure in this country from the Federal level all the way down throughout the local level of Government.

    Debating the smaller issues keeps us fighting each other and off the bigger issue and that is the entire tax structure in this country is broken and corrupt.


  26. - Jacob S - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    really


  27. - Harry - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 1:22 am:

    The only firm conclusion one can draw is that we have one of the worst choices in the history of the world, in our gubernatorial race. Shame they can’t both lose, as Kissinger said of the Iran-Iraq War.


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