As voters start to consider whether to replace Illinois’ flat income tax with a progressive-rate model, lawmakers are starting their work to overhaul the state’s property tax system too.
The Property Tax Relief Task Force recently begin its work, setting up seven subcommittees that will tackle thorny topics like school and economic disparities, school funding, and tax-increment financing (TIF) districts. State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, is one of over 80 task force members.
The task force was created this year after lawmakers agreed to ask voters, in 2020, whether they want to ditch Illinois’ flat income tax and move to a graduated or progressive rate structure. Some see that as an opportunity to reduce the property tax burden facing home and property owners.
Brady said the goal is to find solutions that stabilize, reduce, and simplify property taxes will still providing services. School funding is a key challenge, he said, because districts rely so heavily on property-tax dollars. The owner of an average $162,000 home in Normal pays around $4,300 in property taxes, with 60% going to Unit 5 school district.
“Do we look at something that could be done, shifting more to sales tax? Do we look at some other type of funding of what the General Assembly does within their operating budget? Do we look at some way of what we appropriate for schools for their operational side of things, and doing something different there?” Brady said on WGLT’s Sound Ideas. “Those are all things we’re going to be dealing with and trying to see, is there a better way to do this?”
Property taxes are not just a big source of revenue for schools. They’re also among the most stable, and less susceptible to, say, a two-year budget stalemate like the one that paralyzed Springfield.
And operational costs continue to rise. Brady pointed to fall 2019 enrollment figures from Unit 5, showing 256 more students than this time last year.
“It’s very difficult. When you have school districts that have growth, on a local level, where are they looking to control their cost? I’m sure they could point to examples. But it takes money to run the schools, and when schools have large growth, you’re gonna have a request for more money,” he said.
The task force must submit a final report to the governor and the General Assembly outlining short-term and long-term administrative, electoral, and legislative changes needed to property tax relief for homeowners by Dec. 31.
Listen to Brady’s full interview with WGLT below:
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.