CHICAGO - Who's not focused on Illinois' outrageously high property taxes these days? During the last two weeks of 2017, property owners throughout the state stood in lines to pay their taxes early with hopes they could deduct them for the last time when they file federal income tax returns next April.
Illinois is one of the "high tax states" where taxes in excess of the new federal $10,000 deductible cap are really not that unusual. Between property taxes, a 32% hike in state income taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes and others, Illinoisans are growing in frustration with their tax gatherers. When will enough be enough?
Property taxes are getting the spotlight in both the Republican and Democrats' primary contests.
Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy - son of the late Bobby Kennedy - criticized his party for ignoring or covering up the property tax issue in a Peoria Journal-Star interview over the weekend.
This is not the Democratic Party that represents Kennedy values. These are people who are making money off the system as property tax appeals lawyers that’s destroying our ability to educate the next generation of kids in our state. You want economic development? Jobs go to where the highly educated high school and college kids are. You can’t produce highly educated high school kids when you rely on property taxes. Everybody knows that, yet we cling to that system because our leadership is property tax appeals lawyers, and they’re destroying our state.
The Chicago Tribune's editorial Monday ripped the Democrats on the same topic, blaming Speaker Mike Madigan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook Co Board President Toni Preckwinkle:
In 2016, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios began the year staunchly defending nepotism in his office. He began 2017 engaged in an ethics battle with the county’s inspector general. And he begins 2018 under intense scrutiny for a property assessment system that, according to a lawsuit, perpetuates institutional racism, a serious, recurring charge Berrios denies.
Most politicians would not survive with a professional record as questionable as his. But bad press has never sidelined Berrios. It hasn’t ended his political relationships either. From Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to House Speaker Michael Madigan, Berrios’ allies protect him and campaign donors help re-elect him.
The discussion opened up Monday in the IL GOP with gubernatorial primary challenger State Rep. Jeanne Ives' criticism of how incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner has handled the property tax issue during his first term. On her Facebook page, Ives wrote with a link to the Chicago Tribune editorial:
The response from the Dems and Rauner has been pathetic. Want to change the system? Get rid of the corruption. Rauner should have focused on this rather than a fake freeze amendment. Leadership matters and I have never met a leader who says they are not in charge.
The parties will decide their nominees in the March 20, 2018 primaries.