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The price of delay

Monday, Nov 23, 2015

* Chris Kaergard and Nick Vlahos

Does anyone remember one of the central themes of the Illinois governor’s race last year?

We were told during campaign commercials and stump speeches that taxes were too high, the burden on Illinoisans too crushing. Residents were fleeing the state, businesses were atrophying or decamping for lower-cost pastures, startups were stymied.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has now talked up a tax freeze, and a two-year version of it has been advanced by the state Senate.

What’s the result of that discussion been? Well, look to the city of Peoria, raising tax rates in part to hedge their bets against a tax freeze (as well as pay for long-neglected road repairs). Peoria School District 150 is talking about a tax hike, just so they aren’t frozen out of new revenue.

Chillicothe’s Park District voted on an immense increase in its rate — nearly 70 percent — to the consternation of citizens in a taxing district that, many don’t realize, reaches into Far North Peoria as well. East Peoria is mulling a hike to preserve a stream of income.

Some smaller taxing bodies that fly under the radar — think library districts and their ilk — have weighed the same during their budgeting process.

Short of hanging a “Mission Accomplished” banner, there’s not much tax freeze proponents like Rauner can do to highlight the questionable success of their effort so far. In fact, the tax burden on some in central Illinois — both of your columnists included — is about to be higher than ever.

And meanwhile, what those local governments really say they need — getting rid of costly unfunded mandates that eat up taxpayer money — hasn’t come to pass. A task force working to identify those may have a report soon, which starts a fight throughout the next year or more.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Sir Reel - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 8:57 am:

    The Governor’s much touted (mainly by himself) business acumen hasn’t amounted to squat in terms of cost savings to State government, much less local governments. And there’s plenty of cost savings to be had. Start with CMS, then the Illinois Procurement Code, then CDB, and so on.

    But nada. Too busy with the politicking.


  2. - Ahoy! - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 9:36 am:

    I actually think this is a crock. Units of local government almost always increase property taxes to the maximum (CPI or 5% whichever is less) that they can. They didn’t just start doing this but they did find a convenient excuse.


  3. - x ace - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Excuse maybe ?

    But may be Irrational Excuse in areas that voted 70 % + for Rauner after hearing his Pre-Election Lower Tax Hype?

    Backfire on Taxpayers


  4. - illini - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 9:56 am:

    I just found out on Saturday that my local Community College is proposing a 256% tax increase for the equity tax levy!!!!!

    Since they have received no state funds ( or the federal pass through monies ) since July and are dependent on $10 million for their operating expenses it is no surprise that they are asking for this increase. Austerity measures have already been implemented.

    Have to wonder how this will turn out.


  5. - walker - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 10:02 am:

    There’s much more waste and corruption at local levels across the state, than at the state level. The spending per capita is relatively low at the state level.

    You want smaller and more efficient government? Look local! The best of the tea partiers and taxpayer advocates are doing just that.

    It’s partly a case of taxpayers blaming those they don’t know for everything wrong, and exempting the locals from their own party.

    The real solution is consolidation of local governing bodies, but it appears the Lt. Gov. tasked with that is more interested in restraints on unions.


  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 10:08 am:

    There has been no relationship to date between the governor’s campaign themes and his actions as governor.


  7. - Juice - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 10:11 am:

    Ahoy!, for districts under PTELL, you are correct, and the way that it works actually provides a perverse incentive for taxing districts to raise the levy to the max every year, even if it’s not necessarily needed.

    Peoria county isn’t under PTELL, so they have greater flexibility in how much they raise their levy.

    But it does say something about the effectiveness of the Superstars that people in central Illinois are going to pay more in property taxes now than of the focus had been on getting the State’s finances in order first.

    And I agree with Walker on consolidation, and the need to eliminate taxing bodies that exist because of some of the peculiarities under the old constitution. And that is a tall enough task as it is, without injecting all this anti-Union stuff into the discussion.


  8. - markg8 - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 10:15 am:

    Here in Downers Grove a couple weeks ago the village council raised property taxes on a 5-2 vote. The lone Democrat on the council voted against the hike. It wasn’t needed but those supporting it including Mayor Martin Tully cited Rauner’s proposed property tax freeze.


  9. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 10:54 am:

    Maybe this was Rauner’s “tax plan” all along…


  10. - VanillaMan - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    Over the past twelve years, Illinois has survived regardless of a parade of corrupt or incompetent governors. This is because we have more competent political leaders throughout our state doing what is supposed to be done to keep citizen services operating.

    So yeah - tax increases occur, regardless of whatever governor is flopping in the Mansion. Government is functioning, even as our state government is rudderless and chaotic. Civil servants serve, regardless of the poisonous politics under the Dome.

    Anyone who thought we are a dictatorship ruled by a governor powerful enough to fart out a command and have us all scrambling to fulfill his wishes, isn’t aware of how our governments work.

    It is amazing to me that the same political party that goes into apoplexy over big government, thinks they can just elect one man and have that one guy run Illinois like it is Paraguay. They are wrong both coming and going.

    We have laws bigger than the current governor. We are currently functioning because of a branch of government called our courts. When a Ryan, Blagojevich, Jackson, Schock, Quinn or Rauner screws up - this branch of government steps in to fix it.

    So Rauner can talk all he wants, but no one has to listen to him when he has sidelined himself and his policies by sabotaging his own political mandate within a month of this inauguration. No one had to listen to Blagojevich’s fantasies, even though he was elected governor twice.

    Tax freeze be damned, if you don’t have a credible state leader proposing them, you won’t get it through osmosis.

    Rauner’s poor governing is raising our taxes, not freezing them.


  11. - In_The_Middle - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 11:16 am:

    There should be language in the bill to freeze rates at current levels. This way a property tax freeze doesnt become a tax hike.


  12. - Foster brooks - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    Thats happening in our area also..here come the truth in taxation hearings


  13. - Hit or Miss - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 11:58 am:

    ===Gov. Bruce Rauner has now talked up a tax freeze, and a two-year version of it has been advanced by the state Senate. … Well, look to the city of Peoria, raising tax rates in part to hedge their bets against a tax freeze…===

    I wonder what will happen if the proposed tax freeze fails to become law? Will the ‘hedge’ be unwound and the tax increases be rescinded or not?


  14. - Huh? - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 12:11 pm:

    I have no problem with municipalities and other taxing agencies looking for tax increases. There is no assurance from the State that monies owed will be paid. The local agencies need money to operate and if the only source is from the tax levy, then so be it - raise the taxes necessary to function.

    I don’t like it, but it is necessary in the current political environment.


  15. - illini - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 12:20 pm:

    Huh? Are you suggesting that this was part of the BVR plan to Shake Up Springfield - put the onus on the units of local governance - to raise the revenue that they are nor receiving from the State? And you are OK with that?


  16. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 1:33 pm:

    Tax Hike Bruce!


  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 1:51 pm:

    SIUE and WIU are offering early retirement incentives to cope with the lack of state funding so now we have a bigger drain on the funds.


  18. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Nov 23, 15 @ 3:18 pm:

    Me thinks he hates unions so bad, he will do anything.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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