Illinois legislators continue to fight for property tax relief as the state sees increased income

Illinois Republican state legislators are persistently advocating for policy changes in order to address what they perceive as a detrimental business climate.

Illinois was assigned a credit rating of A- by Fitch Ratings in November 2023, which is significantly lower than the ratings given to the majority of other states. Currently, in early 2024, most states boast AA or AAA credit ratings, enabling them to borrow money at a much lower cost to taxpayers compared to Illinois.

During a news conference held at the state capitol in Springfield, Republican state Representative Dan Ugaste from Geneva expressed his concern over the Democrats’ portrayal that everything is fine. He emphasized the need for a property tax relief plan.

According to Ugaste, the objective is to provide relief in property taxes. The approach involves allocating one dollar to each school district on the condition that they reduce their levy by the same amount. This strategy aims to attract more businesses and individuals to these areas by lowering property taxes. As the local economy expands and people return to the region, the tax burden becomes distributed more widely, resulting in increased revenue for both the state and local property taxes through greater participation from individuals.

In a statement to The Center Square, the spokesperson for Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, provided a response.

“It is disappointing that Rep. Ugaste has not voted in favor of any of the budgets that Democrats have passed, which have resulted in nine credit upgrades for Illinois in less than two years. However, after witnessing press conferences like these, it gives us renewed hope that we can rely on his support this year,” commented Jaclyn Driscoll, spokesperson for Welch.

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Ugaste expressed his satisfaction with the credit increases that Illinois has experienced.

According to Ugaste, the budgets had a positive impact on the economy. However, he believes that the reason for Illinois’ economic improvement and increased revenue is largely due to inflation. Ugaste points out that while the state may have benefited from inflation, the people are not reaping the same benefits because their wages have not kept up with the rising costs.

Illinois residents bear the burden of the second highest property taxes in the entire country. Additionally, Illinois is tied with another state for the unenviable distinction of having the worst credit rating in the nation.

State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Murrayville, emphasized that despite surpassing budget estimates and experiencing an increase in revenues, Illinois remains in a precarious financial state when compared to its neighboring states. Alongside Ugaste on Tuesday, he underscored the poor fiscal condition of Illinois.

During a recent meeting of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, COGFA Director Clayton Klenke highlighted various data points indicating a slowdown in the economy. This is a common outcome when the Federal Reserve tightens its policies in an effort to control inflation.

According to Klenke, although certain economic indicators have experienced a slowdown, revenues have consistently met expectations in comparison to the budget that was put into effect. Additionally, he mentioned that due to some one-time revenue receipts, the forecast indicates that revenues are expected to exceed the estimated figures from the budget.

According to Davidsmeyer, the state has court orders that require investments in services for individuals who are unable to care for themselves. However, despite the increased revenue, there is little evidence of these investments yielding tangible results.

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According to Davidsmeyer, although the revenue in Illinois is still growing, it is not keeping up with the economies of neighboring states. He points out that Illinois has seen a significant increase in income tax revenue, from around $18.5 billion to approximately $33 billion, almost doubling over the past decade.

According to Ugaste, the budget does not take into account Republican priorities such as public safety. He believes that if Republicans were involved in the budgeting process, the state would be in a much better situation across various aspects.

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