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The best story of the day on Rauner’s property tax “plan”

Wednesday, Sep 3, 2014

* Rick Pearson is a state treasure

Local property taxes have long been among the most unpopular forms of taxation. In 1978, then-Gov. Jim Thompson engineered a nonbinding ballot proposal called the “Thompson proposition” that proposed limits on state and local taxes. It also served as a driver for voter turnout in Thompson’s first re-election campaign, though no action was taken.

Charles Wheeler, a longtime statehouse reporter and professor of public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois at Springfield, questioned whether the lack of details from the Rauner camp on the property tax [freeze] and other issues were part of a “cynical” election strategy.

“I can’t believe they’re as uninformed as these things make them sound. It has to be they’re counting on the rest of us being uninformed and taking this nonsense at face value,” Wheeler said.

“Do they want to freeze the levy, freeze the rate, freeze assessments?” Wheeler asked. “How much money does the state get from property taxes? How much goes to the state? Nothing — not a penny.”

Go read the whole thing. Good, solid stuff.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


29 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:25 pm:

    ===“I can’t believe they’re as uninformed as these things make them sound. It has to be they’re counting on the rest of us being uninformed and taking this nonsense at face value,” Wheeler said.===

    Honesty, integrity, ethics, morals.

    People are seeing what Rauner is, and what Rauner is selling as the 2nd Rauner, the Carhartt and watch wearing one, was created to mock the voters.

    Bald. Face. Lies.

    Or, the must utterly ignorant Nominee either party has nominated and let run on their beliefs since Rod Blagojevich.


  2. - Streator Curmudgeon - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:27 pm:

    “I can’t believe they’re as uninformed as these things make them sound. It has to be they’re counting on the rest of us being uninformed and taking this nonsense at face value,” Wheeler said.

    I wish I could remember who said it, but the quote went something like: “Nobody ever went wrong underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”


  3. - Tom Joad - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:38 pm:

    The favorite question of reporters in the Blue room to ask first time candidates was “How much money does the state take in from real estate taxes?” Maybe someone should ask Rauner that question. ( second favorite question was “Are you going to campaign in Lincoln County?)


  4. - Bogey Golfer - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:42 pm:

    ==I wish I could remember who said it, but the quote went something like: “Nobody ever went wrong underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”==
    And that is why I am a proponent of term limits. It doesn’t eliminate pols with dumb ideas, it just reduces their damage to a finite amount of time.


  5. - Norseman - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:45 pm:

    Correctly billed as the “best story of the day.” This is definitely been a “’cynical’” election strategy.”

    The sad thing is that it will probably garner this slimy bunch a ton of votes from those who are focused more on the hatred for property taxes than learning the facts.


  6. - olddog - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:48 pm:

    @ Streator Curmudgeon

    The quote is from H.L. Mencken, author and editorial columnist of Baltimore.

    Here’s the original, at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken: “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
    – ‘Notes On Journalism’ in the Chicago Tribune (19 September 1926)”

    Wikiquote adds: The second sentence is often paraphrased as “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” (The Yale Book of Quotations, 2006, p. 512)


  7. - walker - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    You cannot blame voters for wanting this. Nor can they always be expected to know how government works the details, especially when politicians deliberately mislead them.

    Rauner’s sin is that he is misleading them on how they might get this tax relief. The control is at the local level, with people many voters know or know of. If Rauner were straight on this, he would advise them on how to approach and convince their local officials, who do set this tax.


  8. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    This article is why I keep voting for wordslinger or mentioning him as a great commenter at the end of each year. He nails it. Rauner is counting on voters to be stupid and reflexively angry, to buy his magic fairy dust budget proposals.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    ===The sad thing is that it will probably garner this slimy bunch a ton of votes from those who are focused more on the hatred for property taxes than learning the facts.===

    Here endeth the lesson.

    Rauner forgets. Rauner is going to have to face that Democratically-Controlled GA, and they will have 2 years to hammer and shake the falsehoods, and Rauner will have nowhere to hide… Or maybe hide in a bathroom when Staff looks for him?

    Seen that movie, thanks.

    The legislative liaisons directly from the Rauner’s governor’s office…wow, they will have a tough road, and being an honest partner to the 4 tops bad their caucuses. Love to be with them for a day of session, late session, trying to drum up support…unless they know the fears, and “levers” a Tom Hagen would. Yikes.


  10. - Norseman - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:00 pm:

    === You cannot blame voters for wanting this. Nor can they always be expected to know how government works the details, especially when politicians deliberately mislead them. ===

    No, I blame their parents for not teaching them to question grandiose promises. If it sounds to good to be true, it’s not.


  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    The media has a responsibility to expose these issues, but much of the so-called mainstream media remains silent and very much pro-Rauner.

    It’s bizarre and disturbing — especially when Rauner endorsements will heap praise on the candidate and essentially give him a pass on the details.


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    The Tribune editorial board meeting should be pay-per-view.


  13. - Archiesmom - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:14 pm:

    That Rauner property tax ad was on at least four times during the 3-4 pm tv hour. Going for the suburban female vote?


  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:21 pm:

    –As has been the case since Rauner first proposed a property tax freeze in July — and as he aired two TV ads on the subject in August — the Rauner campaign did not respond or offer any clarification or details on how the Republican’s proposal would work.–

    TV spot first, “plan” later.

    It will be interesting to see if Rauner can pull this off. Prevarication and over-promising is nothing new from politicians, but Rauner is in a class all his own.

    The only generous assessment you could make of his promises regarding taxes (much less) and spending (much more) is that they’re the ravings of a lunatic. Put them all together, and they make absolutely no sense to a child.

    In reality, though, he’s just a profound cynic who thinks he can say anything because he holds the public — and the press — in utter contempt.

    Can he keep laughing and getting away with it for two more months? I wouldn’t bet against him.


  15. - Anon - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:21 pm:

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if his ads spark a Chicago property tax revolt that ends up taking out Rahm?


  16. - Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 5:30 pm:

    Rauner will say anything. His words are unmoored from reality.


  17. - Chris - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 6:18 pm:

    Anon (5;21):

    A revolt among the same morons who might be swayed by the “freeze”?

    The total tax levy in Chicago is up just under 25% in the past 10 years–a period when CPI (inflation) has been a bit over 26%. Anyone who feels that Chicago is overtaxing real estate–as a *class*–is just ill-informed. Anyone blaming the degree of that increase on Rahm, instead of Daley, is just dumb.

    Now, you want to complain about the unfairness of allocation of the property tax, via the assessment and assessment appeal process, that’s completely fair. And *that* is 100% on the heads of the regular Dems of Cook County, whose number includes Pat Quinn, and anyone who can plausibly compete with Rahm for mayor.

    So, again, Remember: Death is not an option.


  18. - Just Me - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 6:27 pm:

    Local governments are creatures of the State of Illinois, I see little wrong with a state candidate campaigning on amending the Property Tax Act.

    It actually makes more sense then House Democratic candidates campaigning on social security or immigration reform, which as we all know happens regularly.


  19. - Retired - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 6:47 pm:

    Out here in the boondocks, if Putin was running as a Republican, the locals would vote for him. They are so uninformed because they do not read this blog.


  20. - Norseman - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 7:04 pm:

    === I see little wrong with a state candidate campaigning on amending the Property Tax Act. ===

    Neither do I. Which candidate is doing that? Certainly not Raunervich.


  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 8:34 pm:

    The best argument you can make for Rauner is that he hopefully doesn’t actually believe all of this stuff.

    Unfortunately, many thought the same thing about Blagojevich in 2002 when he pledged not to raise taxes if elected. Boy, did he fool us by keeping one campaign promise.

    For fun, I think we should take Rauner at his word.

    And why not? The General Assembly passed a property tax freeze bill before. The General Assembly loves property tax relief.

    Now, they might carve out municipalities with populations larger than 1 million, school districts serving more than 300,000 children and the like…but hey, as far as Democrats are concerned, if Republicans think that Wheaton is spending too much to educate their children, or Elmhurst has too many police patrolling the streets….so be it.


  22. - 1776 - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 8:39 pm:

    So we can trust voters to weigh in on non-binding referenda on minimum wage, a millionaire’s tax, and birth control but we can’t trust voters to determine if they want property tax hikes? There is no reduction in property taxes or cuts in school funding. Elected officials have to make the case to voters. What are people scared of - democracy?


  23. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 9:04 pm:

    The proposal is as cynical and as dishonest as the critics claiming that voters are too stupid to know when they are being lied to.

    Everyone knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone knows that people running for office are sales people who would lie just to do so. Politicians use politics to gain power over communities. We all know this. You literally need to suffer from a form of autism not to recognize a lying politician when they show up to get your vote.

    So please spare us all the drama over Rauner’s tax freeze. Rauner can’t top the guys Illinois has elected before when it comes to dishonesty. He is no original.

    What the proposal tells voters is that there is a candidate who sees that middle class people are hurting and that they are afraid of their property costs. Quinn could do the same thing, and he really tries to connect with voters over that same worry but spins it in a Democratic way. Rauner is spinning it like a GOP candidate.

    Quinn addresses this issue by doing what Rauner did, that is, Quinn needs to give voters the Democratic Party version of how he will address the problems facing middle class homeowners who believe their property taxes are no value. That is what he needs to do.

    I find it ridiculous to kvetch over what Rauner did because any candidate can do the same. Yet, Quinn didn’t and hasn’t -yet. If he was smart he would offer voters an alternative to Rauner’s tax freeze. Until then, I recommend my Democratic friends to quit their complaining.

    That’s politics. Yup. It is really dishonest.


  24. - d - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 9:07 pm:

    I just think large numbers of people just don’t care anymore.. Look at voter turnout numbers


  25. - Bucco Clayton - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 9:31 pm:

    The only thing crazier than Rauner’s vague plans is going down the same road to economic oblivion under Quinn and Madigan.


  26. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 9:42 pm:

    ===Rauner can’t top the guys Illinois has elected before when it comes to dishonesty. He is no original.===

    So that makes dishonesty fine and dandy, eh VanillaMan? Well I am not going to sit here and allow you to besmirch a noble profession. I’ve spent my entire adult life helping candidates get elected and never once did I think it was OK for them to lie their way through a campaign. I’ve worked for too many politicians at all levels to let you come in here and say they are all a bunch of liars.

    Chutzpah? Sometimes. Spin? Most of the time. But if a candidate lacks the sense of shame that prevents him or her from not intentionally misleading voters with out-and-out falsehoods and intentionally empty promises, they have no business in our business.

    Charlatans and wannabes like you claim “both sides do it,” or “they’re all a bunch of liars,” and the result is good people stop listening, stop caring and disengage from our democracy. That’s wrong and it’s dangerous and I won’t let you paint with your broad brush anymore because, for reasons I can hardly fathom, some readers here think because you write in complete sentences you have something worthwhile to say. All I’ve seen is evidence to the contrary.

    Comments like yours are a cancer on our democracy.


  27. - Judgment Day - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 9:48 pm:

    “….Property Tax Act.”

    First off, it’s commonly known as the “Property Tax Code of 1993, as Amended” (35 ILCS 200/).

    Rauner’s smart enough to know that property taxes are fast becoming a serious hot button issue, particularly with the 2nd half (September 02, 2014) payment deadline for most places.

    He also realizes that the Democrats don’t really want to talk about property taxes, because if they do, then they are going to be hard pressed to actually push forward on the teacher’s pension shift to local property taxes.

    Currently, much of the Chicagoland area (outside of at least some parts of Cook) is seeing tax rates of anywhere from $8.50 per $100 of taxable value to over $10.00 per $100 of taxable value (that’s 2.833 to 3.333% of the value of your property annually in property taxes). A house worth $200k = tax bill in the $5,660 to $6,660 per year).

    And that’s with a stagnant real estate market.

    And in most places, schools are 2/3rds of the total tax bill.

    So local property taxes would increase even more.

    And the teacher’s retirement shift to local property taxes isn’t going to be that 40-50 year ’shift’, where it’s a 2%-2.5% cost shift per year.

    The GASB 67 & 68 ‘Statements’ are not likely to provide for such a long term shift. It’s more likely to allow for (at best) a 30 year plan, which means 3.3% per year cost shift. And that’s if there are zero (0.00%) increases in the teacher’s retirement plans.

    I just ran some quick numbers. If I got my math right (it’s late), a $200k residence with an $8.50 tax rate, with 2/3rds of the taxes going to schools, and a 3% annual cost shift would be around $114.00 additional per year for the teacher’s funding shift.

    Here’s the math:
    ($8.50/.333 = 2.8333 x .667 = 1.8898 x .03 = .0567; $200,000 x .0567 = $113.39 per year)

    If the tax rate is higher, the yearly numbers go up. Math is fun!

    This game is all posturing by everybody at the poker table. Except the taxpayers. They are the ones who are the suckers at the table.

    Rauner is just throwing out a bargaining chip on the table.


  28. - Percival - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 12:50 am:

    Rather than just shake heads and throw up hands, the media might do well to look behind the Cheddar Curtain. The model for RaunerWorld is there, for good or ill.


  29. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 4, 14 @ 9:01 am:

    @Judgement Day- I think your gist is accurate but your numbers are far different than have been discussed publicly. The cost shift would employ a 15-17 year ramp and shift .5% per year to the local districts. This shift would be limited too the annual cost of the pension, not the unfunded liability. The “old debt” would remain the state’s responsibility, at least for now. The “cost shift” discussion by the powers that be has not included a plan to allow schools to increase their levy for the pension costs. That is an interesting omission since schools and municipalities can levy for the IMRF pension and SSI costs. Coincidentally, the full cost of the yearly pension, in the cost shift scenario, that our district would pay is almost exactly the same as the loss of state aide through the current proration (reduction in funding). I don’t think that is an accident. I also disagree that this is a chip in the game. Educating kids is serious business and the game playing needs to end.


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