Property tax freeze still alive even as budget talks frozen

  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner

    Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner associated press/July 2015

Updated 8/4/2015 6:21 PM

Lawmakers continue to keep alive the idea of holding the line on suburban property tax bills even in the absence of an agreement on a state budget.

Senate Democrats Tuesday approved a proposal to freeze what local governments can ask for in property taxes for two years, with some exceptions. It's an idea that has been rejected a dozen times or so by the Illinois House this year.


This version, though, from state Sen. John Cullerton of Chicago, would also toss out the way Illinois hands out money to public schools at the end of two years, forcing lawmakers to come up with a different method.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has called for a property tax freeze as part of a state budget deal.

However, that deal appears to be far away as lawmakers meet this week with no evidence of a budget agreement that would let the state start paying all of its bills again.

Efforts to redistribute state schools money has been hotly controversial. As the state struggles to pay the bills it already has, sending more state money toward school districts with lower property tax income could result in a funding drop for school districts with more local tax resources.

Republicans didn't vote for Cullerton's proposal. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said it didn't include some of the provisions Rauner wants.

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"I don't think this is soup yet," the Lemont Republican said.

Meanwhile, nonprofits statewide continue to remind lawmakers that their clients, including Illinoisans with disabilities, are the ones most likely to suffer as the fight continues.

Illinois Lung Association Executive Director Kathy Drea argued Tuesday that because officials completed an education budget and courts have required the payments of many other state costs, including employee payroll, only 18 percent of the state's bills aren't being paid.

That leaves payments to nonprofits as an important minority that might not have enough money to keep services going if state funds don't start flowing soon.

"Our concerns regarding the budget have obviously escalated," she said.

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