A task force to find property tax relief for Illinoisans who pay the second-highest property tax in the nation is expected to come up with a plan by the end of the year.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Friday creating the Property Tax Relief Task Force. The governor said the bipartisan group will review the entirety of the state's property tax system, study best practices in other states and make short-term and long-term recommendations by the end of the year. Some Republicans have said that they are concerned the task force will be used to promote Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to change the state's flat income tax to one with higher rates for higher earners. Democrats said lower property taxes are the goal.

“Together, we’ll ensure our children receive the quality education they deserve even while we provide more property tax relief for our homeowners and make our system more fair for everyone,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Even before the governor signed the bill to create the task force, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, tapped members from his caucus to serve on it.

State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, is on the task force. He said the state needs to end unfunded mandates on local governments that drive up property taxes. He also said the state needs to spend its money wisely.

Murphy pointed to a $1.4 billion windfall the state got in April and how quickly it was spent.

“And that was spent in a matter of minutes,” Murphy said. “We should have looked at that revenue as a way to put relief on people.”

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, said, “rising property taxes are hurting home values and forcing seniors out of their biggest asset.” He said he wants to find solutions.

Carroll was one of the Democratic holdouts to get a progressive income tax amendment on the ballot for voters in November 2020. Those holdouts were won over with the promise of a task force.

No Republicans voted for the progressive income tax amendment. But they did support the task force.

Murphy said he shared the concern of another House Republican, state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, who said there could be a bait-and-switch from majority Democrats.

“I wonder what they’re actually trying to accomplish here,” Murphy said. “If it’s just that ‘these people need more money and so that’s why we need a progressive income tax’ I will be battling that. We have enough money for general revenue. We really do.”

Pritzker has said raising billions of dollars in new taxes on wealthier earners could provide more money for education and lower property taxes. His administration anticipates raising more than $3 billion from a progressive income tax, but critics have said that revenue may not materialize if the progressive income tax drags down the state’s economy, or if there’s a national economic downturn.

The task force must produce a report by the end of the year.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.