Illinois State House Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) on the House floor this past summer, criticizing then proposed tax increases that later passed the Democrat-controlled House
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) is running for governor, and a recent House vote on legislation that was sold as a freeze on property taxes, but what fiscal experts say was little more than a ruse, is a symptom of the reason why.
In a commentary published in the Daily Herald, Ives presented her reasons, and qualifications, for challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary. What the political elite are passing for good government is really the preservation of a culture that enriches the connected insiders all while carrying on the pretense of concern for the taxpayers, Ives said.
“Each election cycle, your mailbox is filled with glossy campaign mailers saying your legislators voted to freeze property taxes,” Ives wrote. “Meanwhile, your property taxes are skyrocketing, and half of the line items on your property tax bill go to pay someone else's pension.”
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
This year’s version of the tax freeze, which Ives called a “political pandering piece of garbage,” cleared the House on Nov. 8. The Senate left town before acting on the bill.
Ted Dabrowski, president of Wirepoints, an online news service covering the fiscal policies of local and state governments, wrote in an analysis of the plan that the bill proposed only a temporary freeze that could have easily been circumvented by local governments.
“With property taxes squeezing seniors out of their homes and chasing Illinoisans over the border, you’d think Illinois legislators would finally deliver real relief to homeowners,” Dabrowski wrote.
But instead, the legislation would have frozen taxes for only two years and for only Cook County and the collar counties. Residents in downstate counties would have had to vote for a freeze in a referendum. The provision, moreover, contains plenty of ways local governments can wiggle out of a freeze, some that will cost taxpayers even more in the long run.
“They’ll borrow to pay for their costs,” Dabrowski wrote. “They’ll raise other taxes and fees. They’ll draw down reserves to dangerous levels. And they’ll make even to the unions in the form of future benefits.”
Dabrowski further said the bill ignores the cost-drivers behind the nation’s highest property taxes:
– Government contracts that continue to increase salaries and benefits to workers.
– Local pension costs that continue to balloon.
– Unions that continue to bargain with the same stacked laws that benefit them over taxpayers.
– Unfunded mandates that continue to pile up costs in local governments.
– Illinois still has the most units of government in the nation that Illinoisans still have to pay for.
– Community colleges that continue to grow their expensive administrations.
– Public construction costs that remain at a premium.
In her commentary, Ives said that in all the “political wheeling and dealing,” Illinois families are considered only when it comes time the pay the bill.
“Already on the hook for the highest property taxes in the nation, many face unemployment as businesses bleed into more friendly states," Ives said. "Others are trying to keep their heads above water, having seen needed social services reduced or eliminated over the past three years. So, as pundits and pols rant and rave, too many families quietly pack up and leave. Even those who are doing well look at state politics and wonder why they would entrust their family's future to these ‘leaders.’”