From Property Tax Freeze to Need to Get 10% of Registered Voters to Sign a Petition for a Tax Cut Referendum in High Tax School Districts

Bruce Rauner promising a property tax freeze in Crystal Lake.

When Governor Bruce Rauner ran for office, he promoted a permanent real estate tax freeze.

He said he would not sign a tax high bill unless it included a four-year property tax freeze.

When the Democrats 32% income tax hike did not include that freeze, he vetoed the bill.

Republicans, of course, joined Democrats to override the Governor’s veto.

Now comes a new State Aid to Education bill.

Schools, as everyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of property taxes, take most of our tax dollars each year.

Included in the bill that went to the Governor’s desk was most anemic language which no one who is honest could consider a tax cut.

The Tribune reports the following:

The Tribune reports the following:

[The law makes] it easier for voters in 100 wealthier districts to reduce local real estate taxes for education.

The other encourages poorer school districts to cut their property tax collections and claim state dollars to make up the difference.

The resulting local tax cuts would be incremental and gradual. In addition, participation is voluntary, so it will be up to each school board or a community’s voters to decide whether to take advantage of the new law.

Proponents say the idea is to provide quick relief to poor areas whose property owners are struggling with high tax rates by swapping in some state aid. Those in wealthier areas could benefit from tax cuts but wouldn’t stand to gain much in the way of extra state money.

The article continues,

The new law is less generous to high-wealth districts where local taxpayers carry the bulk of the burden of funding public schools.

For those districts, the legislation creates a referendum process for lowering property taxes — but sets high hurdles for doing so.

Only communities with schools funded above a so-called “adequacy target” would be eligible to lower how much they collect from homeowners.

The “adequacy target” is a dollar figure that’s produced by the new school formula to determine how much money a district needs to generate to provide a quality education.

The most a district could reduce tax collections would be 10 percent…

That’s an unusually high threshold, noted Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, who pushed to include the provision.

By comparison, the requirement to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Illinois requires signatures from 8 percent of the voter turnout in the preceding election for governor.

Based on 2014 turnout figures, that would be about 4 percent of all registered voters.

In other words, there will be about a zero chance that property taxes will be cut.

It is unknown if any school districts in McHenry County would meet the threshold for a tax cut referendum

This even worse language than in the 1973 Resource Equalizer State Aid to Education formula.

For the tons of extra dollars flowing from the 1969 income tax signed by Governor Richard Ogilvie, local school districts with high tax rates were mandated to lower their tax rates.

But, in the next General Assembly, the school lobby got that provision of the formula repealed.

That meant property taxes were not lowered.


From Property Tax Freeze to Need to Get 10% of Registered Voters to Sign a Petition for a Tax Cut Referendum in High Tax School Districts — 2 Comments

  1. The blog post and Tribune article is about Senate Bill 1947 (SB 1947) in the 100th General Assembly, which was signed into law as Public Act 100-0465 (PA 100-0465) by Republican Bruce Rauner on August 31, 2017. > Bills & Resolutions > Senate Bills > 1901 – 2000 > SB 1947 SCH CD – Chronic Absent Pupils

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