Mussman, Bernas favor different paths to property tax relief
Democratic 56th District state Rep. Michelle Mussman and Republican challenger Jillian Bernas agree property taxes is the most pressing issue for the district's residents, but the two Schaumburg women favor different approaches to providing relief.
Bernas said the universality of the problem, as well as the extent it's affecting young families, seniors and renters alike, are what make it a top priority.
"I would be proposing a cap on property taxes," she said. "It should be a function or a value of our home equity and the value of our homes. And as our home values go down, we shouldn't be expected to pay more and more taxes. And that's what the trend has been these past years."
Bernas added that the legislature's failure to address the issue is symptomatic of a broader culture of inaction in Springfield.
"I'm certain there's other pieces of legislation that are just sitting on the shelf, but you need people with the will to take them off the shelf and get them through committee and not support leadership that blocks them every single time," she said.
Mussman was the chief sponsor last year of House Bill 156 that sought to provide some property tax relief for seniors and disabled veterans by expanding exemptions. Different versions passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, but no single version has yet become law and the bill is back in the Rules Committee of the House.
Mussman cited property taxes as the greatest source of instability in the 56th District and said that legislation -- including reform of the Illinois' education-funding formula -- are the best hope for homeowners.
"Remember, the state doesn't set the (property tax) bills, the state doesn't collect any of the money," Mussman said. "So we are limited in the tools in our toolbox to drive that. Changing education funding is the biggest thing that we could have done, along with changing those exemptions. So those are the two things that we're going to continue to focus on."
The 56th District includes parts of Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Roselle.