Property taxes rise nearly $4B under Pritzker
Illinoisans will have paid an extra $3.94 billion in property taxes during Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s term. Four years ago he campaigned on a promise of property tax relief.
While campaign ads for Gov. J.B. Pritzker claim the Family Relief Plan in his newest budget means “lower property taxes” thanks to a one-time rebate, the ad fails to mention property taxes have increased by nearly $4 billion since Pritzker took office.
In tax year 2018, statewide property taxes were $30.9 billion. By tax year 2021, statewide property taxes had ballooned to more than $33.8 billion annually. During Pritzker’s tenure as governor, Illinoisans have faced property tax hikes of nearly $1 billion annually and 2022 is projected to add a similar amount.
Pritzker’s lip service to property tax relief should come as no surprise to Illinoisans. In 2019 the governor pushed for the creation of the Illinois Property Tax Relief Task Force to address political concerns a switch to a progressive income tax would do nothing to address the state’s high property tax burden. Ultimately, the task force never issued a final report or any recommendations to lower property taxes. Voters rejected the progressive tax despite Pritzker donating $58 million to push it.
Pritzker has since signed no legislation that would help local governments structurally reform their biggest cost drivers or place limits on property tax increases. Local pension debt across Illinois communities amounts to $75 billion, pushing property taxes higher to pay for overpromised benefits. There have been no attempts under Pritzker’s leadership to significantly reform the state’s broken pension system.
The failure of Pritzker’s task force to even issue a final report with recommendations to lower property taxes should give every Illinoisan pause over his adamant support for Amendment 1. Amendment 1, dubiously dubbed the “Workers’ Rights Amendment” by proponents, would virtually guarantee a property tax hike of at least $2,149 during the next four years.
This is likely a conservative estimate, assuming the growth of Illinois’ property tax burden holds steady. Illinoisans can expect property taxes would grow at an even faster rate, because Amendment 1 would give Illinois government unions unprecedented bargaining powers that don’t exist in any other state. Exactly how much faster is an open question.
With Illinoisans already paying the second-highest property taxes in the nation and at double the national average, Amendment 1 threatens to make that burden even worse. Coupled with rising property taxes under Pritzker and his do-nothing task force, Illinoisans cannot afford to grant even more power to public sector unions.
Pritzker’s reelection ads have been misleading voters about his record on taxes by claiming he is “helping us pay less for the things we buy every day.” Despite claiming he has helped Illinoisans pay less in gas taxes, he doubled the gas tax in 2019 and Illinois went from having the 10th-highest gas taxes to the second-highest in the nation. His ad also claims he “eliminated” the state’s 1% grocery tax, but the tax is only temporarily suspended until July 2023 – just in time to provide revenue for the state’s next budget. Illinois is one of only 13 states that taxes people’s need to eat.
The misleading claims Pritzker and his campaign are making are misdirects used to hide his true fiscal record. With costs increasing for gas, groceries and housing since Pritzker took office, Pritzker has offered no real relief. In fact, his 24 hikes to taxes and fees have cost Illinoisans over $5 billion during his term.
Instead of relying on Pritzker and his allies to deliver cost-savings, Illinoisans will have an opportunity to effectively vote against a guaranteed property tax increase. That would be Amendment 1, at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot.