The Illinois Senate’s top Republican said he’s disappointed so far in what he’s seen emerge out of the state’s property tax relief task force.
The task force was created after lawmakers agreed to ask voters in November 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 on home and business owners.
The task force failed to meet its Dec. 31 deadline to deliver a final report, although a draft summary has been circulated. It includes ideas such as school district consolidation, merging units of local government, and broadening the sales tax base to fund schools.
Republicans have said the draft ignores many of their ideas.
“My (Republican) co-chairs (on the task force) were underwhelmed by the degree and the magnitude of the effort,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington.
Brady does not appear to support a proposal to expand the state sales tax to more goods and services while lowering the tax rate, with the proceeds funding education.
“I think we’re already overtaxing people,” Brady said. “The message we need to send now is that Illinois is not going to continue to rely on taxing and borrowing.”
The best way to deliver property tax relief is to grow Illinois’ economy and commit any extra revenue created to education, while also asking schools to lower property taxes, Brady said. The bipartisan $45 billion capital bill—funding roads, bridges, and building work—is a good start because it will both provide jobs and spur economic development, he said.
“More needs to be done,” Brady said. “One of the things I was disappointed we didn’t get to last session under the new governor was more economic development issues that really need to be at the forefront of our agenda.”
Meanwhile, Brady said he also plans to spend the next 10 months making the case against the graduated or progressive income tax proposal that will be on the ballot in November. Brady and other elected officials will appear at a roundtable discussion hosted by the McLean County Republican Party at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington.
Brady said he’s worried that abandoning Illinois’ flat income tax will prompt more high-end earners and middle-income families to leave the state.
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker supports the graduated income tax and made it a central part of his 2018 campaign against then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, winning with 55% of the vote.
Isn’t that a signal that the public is supportive of the idea too?
“Pritzker has sold it in a way that some people might believe—and he might even believe. But the truth of the matter is, if you look at the history of politicians, particularly Democrats, you’ll find they are more than willing to reach into the taxpayers’ pocket and take more money,” Brady said. “And there were other circumstances surrounding his election victory. Gov. Pritzker spent a record $180 million on his campaign. Gov. Rauner spent less than $50 million. It was a very lopsided appeal.
“I believe the voters will reject—when they’re informed about the risks of this alteration—I believe voters will reject it. The question is, can we overcome the Pritzker money when it comes to messaging the truth about this alteration?” Brady said.
Coming Monday: Hear from Sen. Brady about why now is the time to reform the way that Illinois’ political maps are drawn.