Batnick calls property tax relief a priority
Illinois is dealing with an unprecedented number of residents moving to other states, and State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) said recently that unless some kind of property tax relief is offered, the outflow will only get worse.
“Families and seniors are being forced from their homes, not because they cannot afford their mortgage, but because they cannot afford their property taxes increasing each and every year,” Batinick said. “If we’re going to be asked to support a budget package, whatever that may end up looking like, we’re here to say there must be real, significant property tax relief for our constituents.”
Illinois ranks fifth on the Tax Foundation's 2012 list of highest state-local tax burdens per capita and as a percentage of income. Residents saw 11 percent of their state income go to the state-local tax burden, and the state had the third-highest property taxes in calendar year 2015, behind only New Jersey and New Hampshire.
High property taxes have been identified as the main reason Illinois residents leave the state, and 47 percent of respondents to a 2016 Paul Simon Institute poll said they would like to leave Illinois. Most are in their prime working years, with 58 percent between the ages of 35 and 50. In addition, 57 percent of adults under age 35 were ready to move to places with more educational and employment opportunities and lower taxes.
“Policymakers argue over whether people are leaving or not,” David Yepsen, director of the institute, said in 2016. “The most troubling finding in this poll is that so many younger people are thinking about it. That’s the state’s future.”
Over the last 10 years, 290,000 working-age Illinoisans have left the state. The tax base shrank, state revenues decreased, and politicians in Springfield raised taxes, bringing a downward spiral that has seen more residents fleeing the high tax burden.
Businesses have also left. The manufacturing industry has dealt with ongoing losses, and businesses have either been leaving or closing due to the double burden of taxes and regulations.
While Illinois has been operating without a budget since the expiration of the temporary "stopgap" budget on December 31, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) hammered out a dozen budget bills in a "grand bargain" compromise. This collection of budget bills contained a permanent income tax increase and a two-year freeze on property taxes.
Gov. Bruce Rauner told the Legislature that a two-year freeze was not enough and called for a permanent property tax freeze. He indicated that he could support the budget if it included workers' compensation reform and the property tax freeze.
As negotiations at the Capitol continued, senators worked on a compromise. Among the alternatives discussed was making the property tax freeze last five years. The Senate failed to pass the 12 budget bills to move the entire budget forward.
Batinick is calling for legislators to work together to provide property tax relief for Illinois residents. He mentioned the bickering on the House floor, but also spoke of respecting one another's priorities as legislators negotiate a compromise budget.
"When the Democrats had control in Springfield, they didn't address property tax relief," Batinick said. "So the time is now. Let's get serious. As the session moves forward and discussions on a budget solution begin to come to light, property tax relief shouldn't be an afterthought or throwaway. It must be a major component of any compromise moving forward."