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Why did our local state representatives vote against HB3793?

In the last paragraph of a previous post, “Tax cap law provides excuse for taxing bodies to raise taxes with declining property values,” a solution was proposed to halt increasing property taxes as property values decline.

The suggested solution was to “repeal tax caps in times of declining property values” and House Bill 3793, co-sponsored by 8 Democrats and 8 Republicans would have at least repealed a portion of the increase!

An unintended consequence of tax caps allows taxing bodies to levy the same amount of taxes as the previous levy year, plus the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is less.

So, even as property values decrease, taxing bodies subject to tax caps are permitted by law to increase the property tax RATES to recover the previous year’s taxes, plus the inflation component – thereby increasing property taxes even in a declining housing market.

HB3793 would have allowed a taxing district to keep the amount of taxes levied the previous year, but would have eliminated the CPI or 5% extension of tax caps. The bill’s passage by the General Assembly could have saved Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars in property taxes in 2012.

My question is why did our local House representatives, Chuck Jefferson, Jim Sacia, Joe Sosnowski, and Dave Winters all vote against HB3793 along with 69 others? One legislator’s office explained that there was strong opposition by their constituients to decreasing taxes and very little, if any, favorable comments.

Were local taxpayers publically informed that this tax cap amendment was coming up for a vote in Springfield to decrease property taxes in a declining housing market, in order to allow taxpayers to voice their support for the bill?

Taxpayers don’t have lobbyists in Springfield that follow our legislators around every single day the Illinois General Assembly is in session to make sure our opinion is considered. The legislators are our representatives, we shouldn’t need lobbyists.

You can bet that taxing bodies directly affected by this legislation were represented and no doubt they were the constituients in opposition to the bill!

The bill’s defeat was an opportunity lost forever. As a result of this vote, each taxing district will now have an initially higher tax levy base, from which to calculate all future tax levies in perpetuity.

Thanks to the November vote of the Illinois House of Representatives, including all four of our local house members, your property taxes will be higher in 2012 than they would have been, even though your property values are decreasing.

After paying your higher tax bill this summer and fall, give your local rep a call and ask why they voted against HB3793!

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10 Comments

  1. Carol Foster

    Or, Ted, you could organize a referendum being placed on the ballot to change how the tax is done?
    I think citizens are allowed to do that in this State. Make changes to laws by gathering signatures to have changes placed on a ballot rather than having everything done in the State Legislature.

  2. Curtis Newport

    Ted, you’re talking about the taxes levied by the ELECTED BOARDS of our LOCAL taxing districts, right? Isn’t it better to have these decisions made at the local level, by local people who are (or should be) more in touch with our local issues?

    One of the reasons local government and education cost so much is because the folks in Springfield (bless their little hearts) love to tell us what we can and can’t do. They tell us what services we have to provide, they require us to pay “prevailing wage” on construction projects, and they allow unelected arbitrators to tell us how much to pay our protected union employees. They have also reduced the portion of state income tax that gets returned to counties and have fallen behind on most of their other obligations to local units of government.

    Now are you suggesting that our state legislature should further limit a local district’s ability to generate revenue, in spite of the unfunded mandates and their failure to provide the funding they already promised?

    Frankly, I’m sick of the nanny mentality in Springfield. We would all be better off if locally elected boards were allowed to do what is best for their own communities.

    The most compelling argument against HB3793 is the fact that PTELL was approved by county-wide referendum. Some counties voted it down, some never put it on the ballot, and some (including Boone and Winnebago) approved the law. I can’t condone the idea of Springfield politicians changing a law that we approved locally. They can give us the authority to govern ourselves, or not, but they can’t have it both ways.

    • Ted Biondo

      You make good points Curtis, however, when the PTELL law was passed no one, including those who passed it, understood the unitended consequence of allowing local government bodies such as the city and the schools, which are 75% of the tax bill, to raise taxes by 5% to over 8% of the previous years taxes. The intent of the law was to reduce the amount of taxes to the rate of inflation only or 5% whichever was less, not more taxes.

      The taxpayers are the boss not the elected officials. Everyone paying property taxes would have voted to change this unintended consequesce of the PTELL law if they would have been given the opportunity to voice their opinion!

  3. Steve Noll

    Property taxes are killing the local real estate market.

    • Ted Biondo

      Steve, you are absolutely correct. Friends of mine in real estate are wondering how they will stay in business. The tax rate will probably go above $12.00 per hundred dollars evaluation for the first time since the PWC lawsuit against RSD205 and the following year to over $12.50 per hundred dollars evaluation. It’s a killer on the economy and real estate. The only thing that seems to be saving it is the record low interest rates and banks are reluctant to lend to anyone but the most creditworthy people. But the elected officials do not have to raises our taxes to the max. They have become defenders of the taxing bodies not what the people can afford!

  4. Didn’t know if you were watching the city council meeting the night our Mayor talked to our aldermen about signing a letter to send to our reps to vote down that legislation. as it would hurt our city finances. All our leaders are to blame.Especially not letting the public have a loud voice. Thank-you for bring so many good subjects to light. Betty

    • Ted Biondo

      Thanks Betty B. I appreciate your comments and welcome you to the blog!

      I can’t believe that only 6 comments have been made thus far on what our representatives, both Republican and Democrat, did to their own constiuient taxpayers. Taxing bodies are not their constiuents in the pure sense of the word, but they voted to stick it to us and reward them forever because with tax caps the taxing bodies never have to lower their tax levy for all following years.

      I will be writing another post today or tomorrow on why the people running for the non-incumbent state rep district also do not understand the funding of the schools or want to give more power to the General Assembly in Springfield.

  5. Bill Chamberlain

    I called Joe Sosnowski’s office to ask why he voted no and I got the answer that constituants called and wanted him to vote no. I told his secretary that I am sure the only people that knew this was coming up were park districts, city government,school unions, etc and that would be a minority of the voters in his district and they were the ones calling. No one else knew. I like the idea of putting taxes to a referendum from Carol. It would seem that government has the idea that their reason for being is to act as an employment agency and the people are just the income for paying wages. I enjoy your blogs. Bill

    • Ted Biondo

      Welcome to the blog, Bill. Thanks for the comment. I also talked with two of the representatives and I was told the constituients were the taxing bodies. I guess taxpayers will have to hire lobbyists. If I didn’t know about it, especially the tax caps, no taxpayer did. No one told me there was any vote to reduce our taxes under Tax Caps. I found this HB 3793 while researching for something else on Tax Caps and could not believe the roll call vote on this issue.

      The worst part is that this higher tax base is now set for all the taxing bodies in the state for years to come regardless of how a future vote would go!

  6. truth hurts

    The reason these representatives continue to do this is because the voting public LETS THEM.

    They know no matter what they do during their term all they have to do is put out a commercial that in no way (by law) is required to tell the truth, shake a few hands, promise whatever group they are talking to what they want, and point out in a speech how “bad the other guy/party is” and most of their voters will buy it.

    Common people you laugh at infomercials and point out how full of BS they are but you buy their lies?

    You research for hours on your next electronic toy (be it ipad, Iphone, plasma tv, ect) but spend little on what your representative did in office.

    You will (for example) switch oil change shops because they cost you too much money and/or broke a promise to you. But when a vote like this comes up you don’t even bat an eye on how much they have screwed you and cost you?

    The cold hard truth is the person responsible and approving this betrayal, lies, and deception is looking right back at you in the mirror.

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