* 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.