From the campaign of John Bambenek for State Senate (52nd District)…
(DANVILLE) In town to support State Senate Candidate John Bambenek, the top Republican in the Illinois Senate is warning that 52nd District taxpayers will see significantly higher property taxes if Governor Quinn gets his proposed “cost shift” during a January lame duck session, as Democrats are planning.
Bambenek joined Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) in sounding the alarm, saying that proposed pension “reform” measures may actually be more about raising money for expanded state programs and less about reforming or fixing the state’s massive unfunded pension liabilities.
“It’s encouraging to see that everyone finally understands that Illinois has a pension crisis. We have the worst-funded system in the nation. The payments that have to be made are crippling the state budget and crowding out spending in every area. The systems’ instability is further jeopardizing our jobs climate,” Bambenek said. “But we cannot allow Chicago Democrat leaders to push the state’s pension debt – debt that they racked up — onto local property taxpayers.”
Bambenek said he is opposed to the current plan that would raise local property taxes by shifting state costs to local school districts. The proposal would also shift costs to public universities and community colleges, resulting in tuition increases and cutbacks at the University of Illinois and other institutions.
“The University has been clear – if U of I is forced to take on additional costs, it will mean tuition will have to go up and cuts will have to be made,” Radogno said.
In public appearances – in Chicago –Governor Pat Quinn and House and Senate Democrat Leaders have all indicated that a vote on their proposed “cost shift” will most likely come in January, after the elections, during the lame duck legislative session.
Radogno warned she is seeing the same pattern develop this year that she saw two years ago, when Democrat candidates for the legislature pledged not to raise taxes and then just weeks after the election voted for a 67% income tax increase – the largest tax hike in state history.
“And now the Chicago Democrat leaders are pushing a proposal that would raise property taxes just weeks after the November elections. Remember the old saying, ‘fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’ I don’t want the taxpayers of the 52nd district to be fooled twice,” Radogno said.
This year, she said, there is also a new twist and a new risk.
“Chicago legislators are fond of arguing that their school district covers a larger percentage of pension costs than downstate districts, but what they don’t mention is that when the entire system of funding schools is examined, the Chicago Public Schools may receive more than their fair share, even with the pension contribution factored in,” Radogno said.
Radogno explained that the antiquated state school aid formulas are already skewed to benefit Chicago by giving less weight to children in downstate school districts, than children in Chicago.
Radogno added that, as proposed, the argument that costs ought to be shifted to local school districts so they have a stake in holding down pension costs is fundamentally flawed because it is the legislature, not the school districts that determine pension benefits.
“It sounds good, but the fact of the matter is, pushing the costs onto local school districts and then leaving the legislature in control of setting benefits is just an invitation for disaster,” Radogno said. “It means politicians in Springfield continue to dole out benefits – and stick property taxpayers here and across the state with the bill. It means a property tax increase in downstate and suburban communities. It means a property tax hike everywhere but Chicago.”
Bambenek said, “Senator Mike Frerichs voted for the 67% income tax increase and every family in this district is feeling the effects. Their tax increase is taking $7 billion from the pockets of taxpayers, forcing businesses to run for the borders, and killing the jobs climate in border communities like Danville.
“We certainly cannot afford the property tax hike those same politicians are planning for January,” he concluded.