CAPITOL BRIEFS: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019

CAPITOL BRIEFS: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019

GOP lawmaker aims to cut local property taxes


SPRINGFIELD – A bill that would slash local property taxes by 10 percent over the next two years has been introduced in the Illinois House.

State Rep. David McSweeney (R- Barrington Hills) introduced that legislation Monday, Feb. 4. After a two-year phase in, it would permanently cap local taxes at that lower level unless local voters approve a tax increase in a referendum.

House Bill 320 is just one of a number of efforts in the General Assembly to put more state controls on local property taxes. Another, Senate Bill 81, by Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), would, with certain exceptions, cap individual property assessment increases at no more than 20 percent a year. 

Lobby groups representing local units of government, which rely on property taxes as a major source of revenue, are expected to work hard against any such measures. The Illinois Municipal League in particular has a standing position this year of opposing any legislation to freeze property tax rates or reduce local taxing authority.


Chicago business group maps plan for state financial health

SPRINGFIELD – A Chicago-based business group is proposing an $8 billion package of tax increases and spending cuts as a way to restore the state’s financial health, something the group says is needed to improve the state’s jobs climate. 

In a report released Monday, Feb. 4, entitled “Restore Illinois,” the Commercial Club of Chicago proposes to increase revenues by $6.4 billion a year by raising both personal and corporate income tax rates one percentage point; taxing retirement incomes; and expanding the state sales tax to include certain consumer services.

The plan also calls for major changes in state employee and retiree health coverage, pension benefits and about $1 billion in unspecified spending cuts, all of which the group says would balance the state budget and eliminate the backlog of unpaid bills within about five years.

The package, developed by the Tax Policy Task force of the Commercial Club’s Civic Committee, also includes what the group calls a “2+2” plan for state pension systems – increasing state contributions by 2 percent a year, while adding another $2 billion a year in “supplemental” funding in order to wipe out their estimated $130 billion in unfunded liabilities by around 2055.

“Resolving Illinois’ fiscal crisis and restoring confidence in our state is within reach,” Scott Santi, chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, said in a statement. “It will require facing the reality of the situation, making tough decisions and sacrifices, and then sticking to a plan.”


Pritzker touts state’s tourism assets

SPRINGFIELD—Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois’ strength is its citizens at an awards dinner for tourism excellence Monday, Feb. 4.

The Land of Lincoln has Chicago and Galena, Shawnee National Forest and Starved Rock State Park, but the 114 million visitors who visited the state in 2017 came because it’s “home to the greatest people in the world.”

“Chefs and wait staff, hotel managers and clerks, designers and shopkeepers, welcoming people from across the world to our state and showing them everything that is good about Illinois,” Pritzker said in his speech.

“We’re powered by some of the most decent, hard working, dedicated and kind people in the world,” he continued.

The governor said in 2017, Illinois’ tourism industry added $3 billion in revenue to the state and local governments, supporting more than 337,000 jobs.

Jeff Rogers

Jeff RogersJeff Rogers

Jeff has more than 30 years’ experience working for newspapers as a reporter and editor. He was the editor of daily newspapers in northern Illinois and Wisconsin before joining as Capitol News Illinois’ editor, where he oversees the news service’s development, growth and fundraising. He grew up in Lanark in northwest Illinois and has a journalism degree from Bradley University in Peoria.

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