81st House candidates differ on property tax freeze, term limits
Candidates vying for the 81st House District seat disagree on whether a property tax freeze would stem the tide of Illinoisans leaving the state and how to tackle term limits for legislators.
Incumbent Republican state Rep. David Olsen faces newcomer Democratic candidate Anne Stava-Murray on Nov. 6.
The candidates agree rising property taxes are driving people out of state, borne out by declining population trends. Yet, they differ on whether a tax freeze is the right solution.
"To fix property taxes, we need to fix the largest driver of cost within property taxes: public education funding," said Stava-Murray, 32, of Naperville.
She said a property tax freeze is "shortsighted" because it doesn't address the state's underlying problems of underfunded public education and unfunded pension obligations, which contribute to rising property taxes.
"We need to solve the pension debt. We need to solve it quickly, and through that process we will give relief to property taxes in a way that's long lasting and not a short-term fix that's just for political gain, and not really for the people's best interests," she said.
Olsen, 30, of Downers Grove, said a short-term property tax freeze is a "sensible solution" providing immediate relief to taxpayers, such as seniors on fixed income, but adds there is a need for greater property tax reductions.
"To stop this migration, we need to reduce tax rates, cut wasteful spending, and enact pro-growth policies to ensure economic growth," said Olsen, who added the 2017 education funding reform law was "a step in the right direction in increasing state support for education."
The evidence-based school funding formula provides millions of dollars more to school districts based on need to bring them closer to adequacy targets. Adequacy level reflects how much the state believes a district should spend to educate students in comparison to what the school district actually spends.
On term limits for elected officials, Olsen supports limiting time in office for all legislators, including leaders, and constitutional officers.
"The life of those limits is something that I'm willing to work with others to find a compromise," he said. "To me, the eight-year term limit makes sense."
Stava-Murray would like to go further and make elections more competitive and easier for candidates without party backing to run.
"When we look at reforms, it's not about necessarily just cooperation among parties, which consolidates power into the already quite powerful political machines in Illinois," she said. "It's about letting more people run, making it so people have easier access to the ballot. With competitive elections, people can then enforce term limits themselves."
The 81st District includes parts of Bolingbrook, Darien, Downers Grove, Naperville, and Woodridge.