SPRINGFIELD - A property tax relief bill that passed the Illinois House last week remains a topic of discussion among Republicans that voted against it. State Rep. David McSweeney's (R-Barrington) legislation places a one year restriction on the ability to levy general revenue budgets on a specific list of small townships in specific Chicago area counties.
Of the 47 Republicans in the House, 18 voted against the HB 5311 including Bellock, Brady, Brauer, Davidsmeyer, Demmer, Fortner, Hammond, Hatcher, Ives, Kosel, Leitch, Meier, Poe, Pritchard, Reboletti, Rosenthal, Sommer and Tracy. A number of Democrats voted for the bill - many of which face potentially tough Republican challenges in November.
Speculation is that McSweeney folded into the bill specific demands by Speaker Madigan, which were intended to blunt criticism of key Democrat lawmakers.
Those in the House Republican caucus that voted "no" expect their constitutents to ask them why they opposed a tax relief measure.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) said McSweeney's bill would divide her west suburban district between townships that qualify for the freeze and those that do not.
"We need tax relief that applies across the board," Ives told Illinois Review. "Rep. McSweeney's bill applies to the smaller population townships, and not across the state. And the bill could save affected taxpayers only $1.00 and it would be for just for one year."
As the bill moved along in the process, Rep. McSweeney made changes or promises of change that eliminated more and more townships from being under the tax levy restriction. After removing the bill from the House agenda on March 6th, McSweeney withheld any activity on the bill until the day after the party primaries, when he amended the bill to exempt five other townships, including Orland, Bloom, Rich, Stickney, and Calumet in the south suburbs.
Then, during House floor debate McSweeney promised to exempt townships that had suffered tornado devastation.
McSweeney said HB 5311 is the most tax relief he could get passed with Democrat House control.
"Unfortunately, it was a bad bill," Rep. Ives said. "It implemented the property tax freeze for only one year. Property tax freezes remove local control of property taxes and hand it to the state. The better way to reduce property taxes at the state level is to reduce or eliminate unfunded mandates."
HB 5311 is on its way to the Illinois Senate.