Gov. Bruce Rauner says a property tax freeze passed by the Illinois Senate this week is more evidence of Illinois being run as a "dictatorship from Chicago" by House Speaker Michael Madigan and his Democratic allies in the city.
The bill freezes property taxes for two years, proposes a change to the state's school funding formula and provides $200 million in teacher pension relief to Chicago. The Chicago Public Schools pension provision is intended to make up for Chicago taxpayers essentially being double-billed for teacher pensions: They finance Chicago teacher pensions and part of their state income tax subsidizes teacher pensions in suburban and downstate school districts.
But the bill doesn't allow local governments throughout the state to restrict the terms of collective bargaining, as Rauner has proposed.
"The bill ... (is) missing key elements that are absolutely critical in our view to deal with property taxes and that is getting local control ... of costs. Whether it's bidding, contracting, what gets bargained, what doesn't. That should be controlled locally. That shouldn't be mandated by Springfield," Rauner said in a press conference at the Capitol. "If we don't include that in our legislation and we freeze property taxes for two years... as soon as the two years are up, they're going to pop up and frankly accelerate in a lot of communities beyond what they otherwise would have. It's not a true fix to the problem. It's a small step in the fix but the real fix is get local control of costs."
That the bill contains pension relief for Chicago Public Schools but no provisions for school districts statewide indicates a bigger problem, Rauner said.
"Illinois should not be a dictatorship from Chicago. And so here's the point. Speaker Madigan could, if he wanted to hike taxes, he could. He's not been willing to do that but he's also not been willing to deal with reforms," Rauner said. "The only time he wants reform is if it's a special request from Chicago, Democrats in Chicago. That's not the right way to deal with this."
You can read what else Rauner had to say and see Madigan's response at Reboot Illinois.