* My Crain’s Chicago Business column…
Outgoing Gov. Bruce Rauner talked a lot about high property taxes in Illinois. But, like most everything else, he never actually got anything done about them.
Rauner’s idea was to freeze local property taxes and allow local governments to strip almost all collective bargaining powers from teachers and other unions, which would then drive down wages and benefits to balance local budgets. But that idea was simply too radical for this state.
Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has also promised property tax relief, but he hasn’t yet said how he would achieve it. Pritzker has rightly blamed high property taxes for businesses and residents leaving Illinois. But total up all local property tax revenues and compare them to statewide taxes and you’ll see what a daunting task this is.
In 2015, about $29 billion in local property taxes were levied statewide, according to the Civic Federation. That number is higher now, but the latest projection from the governor’s budget office is that Illinois will take in about the same amount, $29 billion, from income and sales taxes this fiscal year.
Decades of inaction, incompetence and partisan games have allowed a big problem to grow into a gigantic monster.
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