House OKs bipartisan property tax freeze, but Rauner and some Republicans oppose it

 
By Mary Hansen
mhansen@dailyherald.com
Updated 4/21/2016 8:02 PM

Illinois lawmakers again Thursday voted to freeze how much school districts and some other local governments can collect in property taxes, but Gov. Bruce Rauner's office said it wasn't a "real" effort.

School districts would be allowed to ask voters for the authority to ask for more money, and the plan would exempt towns with so-called home-rule powers, which are typically the larger ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"If they want additional funds, they're going to have to go to the taxpayers to do that. I'm just taking away the automatic increase," said state rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat.

The legislation received bipartisan support in the House, with Republican state Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, co-sponsoring it.

"(The bill) still does much, not everything, of what we wanted," Sandack said. "Maybe it's a starter. It provides a ray of hope for property tax relief to people."

But it faces an uncertain future in the Senate, and Rauner's opposition could cause problems, too. The governor has called for a property tax freeze, but he's also asking for policies that many Democrats criticize as anti-union.

"The governor continues to support a property tax freeze tied to local control of bargaining and bidding," spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said.

Still, some House Republicans, including state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights, disagreed with the measure for a different reason. He said he voted on Wednesday for a property tax freeze that included Chicago and other home-rule cities, but couldn't support a plan that excluded them.

"It's unfair in my mind to single out the non-home rule units of government, which have even less capability to handle their finances in other ways," he said. "It's even more burdensome on a non-home rule community."

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