* Eric Zorn looks at Bruce Rauner’s property tax proposal…
But the “Bring Back Blueprint” also contains some stinkers, notably the call for a property tax freeze. With the freeze in place, according to the campaign’s explanation of the vague passage on Page 10, the annual amount individual property owners pay could not be increased until voters OK’d the hike at the polls.
First, this proposal glosses over the complexity of the property tax system, in which your bill is your share, based on the value of your property, of the combined requirements of local taxing bodies, such as parks, libraries and schools. But even if the law froze or lowered those requirements — called levies — your share would go up if your property value rose more quickly than average.
Second, it would require a three-fifths vote of the General Assembly to impose a property tax freeze on home-rule communities, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue, making it close to politically impossible.
Third, it would plunge every affected community into perpetual (and expensive) referendum hell, with every incremental initiative effectively put to a popular vote.
Finally, as time and inflation took their toll, a freeze would inevitably starve not only police, fire and other essential services, but also education, which already relies too heavily on local property taxes and which Rauner has pledged, somehow, to bolster.
* As does Mark Brown, who wrote “don’t fall for this illusion that the rich man has the secret pain-free formula to save us all”…
Nobody likes to pay property taxes. Nobody likes higher property taxes. But property taxes are the primary method by which we fund our schools in Illinois.
If you reduce the state income tax while freezing the local property tax, the effect is to put a chokehold on the public school system in your community.
That’s why there had been a push for many years to increase the state income tax: to get more money to schools and in the process take pressure off property taxes.
Unfortunately, because of the state’s financial mismanagement [feel free to blame the Democrats although Republicans played a role, too] and the recession, we dug ourselves such a deep hole that too little of the increased revenue has made it to the schools.
* As does Phil Kadner…
Rauner also recently has said he wants to freeze property taxes.
I don’t even know what that means.
Does he want to freeze property tax rates? Does he want to freeze the levies of local school districts, library boards and municipalities?
I mention this because it’s all of apiece.
Even Republicans, who want to cut budgets, understand that you need money to pay for important programs that provide valuable services for people.
Even Democrats, who advocate increased government spending on social service programs, complain about their taxes.
What people really want, it seems to me, is lots of stuff at no cost.
Yep. We’ve all been spoiled by three and a half decades of almost constant and huge federal budget deficits. The feds have magic money powers, so folks assume everybody else does too. They’re wrong, but politicians and way too many editorial boards think magic is a plan.