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House GOP Sounds Off On Illinois Property Tax Task Force

From left, House GOP Leader Jim Durkin and Rep. Deanne Mazzochi answer questions at a press conference in Chicago on Jan. 8
via Blueroomstream.com
From left, House GOP Leader Jim Durkin and Rep. Deanne Mazzochi answer questions at a press conference in Chicago on Jan. 8

A group of Illinois House Republicans heavily criticized the lack of work from a statewide task force on property taxes.

The bipartisan committee, which has 80+ members, was assembled in the wake of one of the state legislature’s most consequential votes last year: putting a question about changing Illinois’ income tax structure on the ballot. Voters will have a say on that question this fall.

The goal of the task force is to come up with ideas on how to tackle the steady uptick in property tax rates across the state. But Rep. Deanne Mazzochi (R, Elmhurst) says it’s missed deadlines and has so far done next to nothing.

“When you look at what they presented, you have to ask yourself, ‘Are these Democrats serious about property tax reform?’ I suggest they are not," she told reporters at a press conference in Chicago.

Dec. 31 was the deadline for a final report from the group. The task force missed that deadline for unspecified reasons, but so far a draft summary has been made available.

House Republicans, led by Rep. Jim Durkin (R, Western Springs), said their caucus proposed several dozen ideas to keep property taxes in check and saw each one rejected. Though the task force hasn’t released its final report yet, Durkin says he’s not convinced Democrats who control it will put forward anything substantive.

"That gets into pensions and that gets into some of their [Democrat] interest groups that they don’t want to have to deal with," he said, referring to some of the suggestions put forward. "Six months is more than enough time; they have failed...to offer anything of meaningful reform that is going to help homeowners.”

Democrats on the task force, meanwhile, have accused Durkin and others of making partisan arguments. Rep. Sam Yingling (D, ) one of the task force's chief members, said the group still welcomes input.

Data from the Illinois Department of Revenue puts the problem on full display, showing property taxes statewide went up by at least a billion dollars between 2017 and 2018. Illinois has more than 6,000 taxing bodies altogether.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS. To see more, visit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.