Wehrli chides Madigan for 'hostage' comments on Rauner
Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) admonished House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) on Monday for accusing Gov. Bruce Rauner of pushing an extreme right-wing agenda by demanding a property tax freeze.
“Mr. Speaker, if ensuring that families, seniors and those living on fixed incomes can stay in their homes and communities … throughout our fine state is something you are not for ... if you think that is an extreme right-wing agenda, then guess what? I stand for that,” Wehrli said. “I stand for helping people around this fine state to be able to stay in their homes and afford to stay there on a fixed income.”
A day earlier, Madigan had accused Rauner of holding the state hostage with his turnaround agenda.
“What he has really done is to held hostage people who, in Illinois, depend upon state funding for autism services, people who depend upon the state for breast cancer screenings, child abuse prevention and sexual assault victims,” Madigan said.
Rauner’s push to reform property taxes has been contentious among lawmakers, but Wehrli said it was clear what high property taxes have done to the state.
“Last fall, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute gave out some interesting statistics: 47 percent of registered Illinois voters want to move out of our fine state, 27 percent of them citing higher taxes as their top reason," he said. "For the third year in a row, Illinois has lost more residents than any other state. Chief Executive magazine ranks Illinois 48th as a place to do business — a position it has held since 2011. A major contributor to all those facts are high property taxes.”
Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the nation behind only New Jersey. Wehrli contended that the taxes affect everyone except one group: the rich. Referring to a Chicago Tribune expose that revealed a large disparity in property assessments between the wealthy and poor in Chicago suburbs, Wehrli called actions by Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios discriminatory.
“The Chicago Tribune just exposed how the property tax system in Chicago put those in the minority and low income at a disadvantage,” Wehrli said. “They pay high property taxes, but they don’t have the ability to appeal it. But if you are affluent … you can appeal your property taxes by simply removing the toilets, and you can have a $230,000 property tax break, all while the poor and low-income people continue to pay higher and higher taxes."
Wehrli called the property tax system in Cook County and Chicago a rigged system that was put in place by Madigan and overseen by “his minions.”
He urged his fellow lawmakers from across the aisle to work with the GOP to fix the property tax system.
“In this newfound era when your side continues to lecture us on a daily basis about laying down arms, maybe instead we can work together and come up with some policies that can help those people that can’t afford to stay in their homes due to high property taxes,” Wehrli said. “It’s time we come together and work together for businesses in Illinois, for seniors, for all of us so that we can make Illinois a great state again.”