Illinois has more than 7,000 units of government; far more than any other state in the union.
With so many taxing bodies, it’s no wonder Illinois also has some of the highest property taxes in the country and why we are paying more every year.
As Illinois lags behind its neighboring states in some of the most important measures of economic development, government efficiency and quality of life, the distinctions of “most taxing bodies” and “highest taxes” aren’t titles to be proud of.
Our property tax bills read like a laundry list of government bodies, each demanding more and more money every year. The first step in getting out of a hole is to stop digging. That’s why this past year, I passed a new law placing a four-year moratorium on the creation of new taxing bodies. This measure will halt the expansion of government, but it’s clear more must be done. I’ve worked to pass legislation through the House that would give taxpayers the ability to consolidate unnecessary and duplicative levels of government. Unfortunately, a lot of politicians will fight against even the most common sense reforms, and this bill was bottled up in the Senate by state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry.
It is no accident we have so many units of government or some politicians want to stop us from doing anything about it. People with power and the desire for cushy jobs and pensions have worked hard to protect their interests. These insiders and their cronies will fight to protect what they have, especially when it comes at the expense of taxpayers.
It’s become an all-too-common refrain in Illinois: Politicians stalling property tax relief, standing in the way of a budget and refusing to make the tough decisions that will get our state back on track. The people I represent have seen enough. As their voice in state government, I have sought to work with all sides, and I’ve not hesitated to challenge those decisions that have delayed the actions we so desperately need, even when it has meant standing up to the most powerful political bosses in the state.
I disagreed with the House Speaker Michael Madigan’s decision to cancel two legislative days this month. Despite facing a budget crisis, the House was scheduled to be in session only 12 times before April. That number now is down to a maximum of 10. While this clearly demonstrates the need for the governor to take action on my call to bring all 177 legislators back to Springfield for a special session and around-the-clock budget negotiation, he has refused to act. This lack of urgency in Springfield is the worst type of politics. Where politicians suffer under the delusion it is acceptable that real people suffer as long as the other side gets blamed for it.
Every day, I hear from middle-class families, senior citizens and those in great need about how out-of-control property taxes are crushing them and how the state’s budget impasse is jeopardizing their essential services. I believe that, like me, many legislators are hearing these same messages, and they should join me to do something about it.
Nothing that is worth doing to protect taxpayers occurs easily in government. There is always a fight, but it’s a fight every elected official who intends to truly serve the public has a duty to undertake.
It’s time legislators and the governor return to the Capitol, lock the doors and do what needs to be done.