Two state reps attempt to limit backdoor referendums that use Tax Caps

The tax caps people desired, and what the Illinois General Assembly originally intended, was supposed to limit what municipalities could collect to the amount they had collected the previous year, plus the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever was less.

Taxpayers didn’t want the taxing bodies to get taxes based on unlimited property appreciation plus the rate of inflation, which was happening at the time.

With the current depreciation of property, the taxes should go down unless the people approve an increase – that’s the way taxpayers wanted tax caps to work. A few legislators have tried to limit taxes in a decreasing market, but the municipalities screamed bloody murder!

Using tax caps, no elected official or bureaucrat has to stand on the merits of their expenditures, when the law simply allows them to raise taxes on decreasing home values, without even voting on the increase.

That’s what I posted in May 2013 and now Reboot Illinois, a statewide group reporting on the state of the state at least weekly, is writing about the same thing. That back in 1991, with the rapid increase in property taxes, the Tax Cap law capped property tax increases at a maximum of five percent a year, or the rate of inflation, which ever was less.


No one anticipated the same law would work against home owners when values fell,” Franks (D-Marengo) said. But that’s what has happened recently once the housing bubble burst. Property values fell, but property taxes continued to rise for Illinois citizens. In fact, Illinois has some of the highest residential property taxes in the nation.


Franks says he believes that it should be fundamental that when property values decrease, property taxes should at least not increase.


Franks and State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) are co-sponsoring House Bill 4273, legislation that would place an advisory referendum on the 2014 general election ballot asking voters to weigh in on Franks’ property tax reform measure.


Franks has introduced legislation aiming to “freeze the amount that local taxing bodies could raise annual levies if the value of property in the tax district decreased” in both the current and the previous legislative session, according to a press release from his office.


Essentially, his proposed legislation would make increases in property value and property taxes married to each other…the taxes could not increase without an increase in the property value.

Franks has tried to pass this type of legislation in the past, but it failed both times he tried partly as a result of opposition from our local taxing bodies, who lobbied against his bills using taxpayer funded lobbyists, arguing the money was needed by the local entities or services would have to be cut – no voters need be consulted.


They were lying to the people,” Franks said. “[The local governments] feel they’re entitled to the money. [The people] are not only scared, they’re mad.” By trying to get a referendum on the November ballot, Franks and Sandack are trying to circumvent the lobbyists and take the issue straight to the voters in Illinois.


Franks said he’s not concerned about voters living in downstate counties with lower property taxes not showing support for property tax reform. “I think everyone [in the state] can agree the taxes shouldn’t go up until property values do,” Franks said. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican thing. This affects everyone.”

Representative Franks probably doesn’t realize that taxes in our downstate area of Rockford, as a percent of Fair Market Value, are way ahead of anything in the collar counties, and one of the top in the nation.

Unfortunately, House Bill 4273 will have to get by a General Assembly that is currently considering making our 67% increase in state income tax permanent, a progressive tax that will raise state income taxes even higher than the current 5%, and for the first time, taxing retirement income.