CHICAGO -- New battles over capping property taxes broke out in the Illinois General Assembly this week as legislators promoted competing plans that would limit the ability of local governments to raise revenues and issue bonds.
On Tuesday, Rep. Manny Hoffman, R-Homewood, introduced legislation that would limit annual property tax collection increases by almost all the state's localities to 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The measure also would require voter approval for all new bond issues backed either directly or indirectly by local property taxes.
Rep. Hoffman said his bill would extend statewide a tax cap law, which was passed by the General Assembly in July and which took effect Oct. 1. That law covers nonhome rule governments in five suburban Chicago counties.
"We've been hearing about rising property taxes from all corners of the state," Rep. Hoffman said.
He added that he wanted the law to take effect immediately to head off any rush to issue bonds by governments that would be covered by the cap. Public finance officials said they noticed a significant increase in bond issuance by suburban Chicago governments covered by the tax gap law prior to the Oct. 1 effective date.
However, the bill would need a three-fifths majority vote in both the House and Senate to have an immediate effective date under state law. In addition, the General Assembly in only meeting a total of six days this month and the next to attempt veto overrides and consider new legislation, giving Rep. Hoffman and backers time to get their proposals through both houses.
Rep. Hoffman said he hoped his bill would be considered during the abbreviated legislative session, but Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said it probably would have to wait until the legislature returns next spring.
Also on Tuesday, Republicans in the Senate failed to garner the three-fifths vote necessary to by-pass the committee process and ensure consideration during the fall veto session of a property tax cap bill covering only Cook County.
That bill, sponsored by Sen. Walter Dudycz, R-Chicago, would place on Cook County governments the same tax cap and restrictions that took effect Oct. 1 for bond issues in suburban DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties. But Sen. Dudycz has also vowed to attempt to amend the bill so that it would cover home-rule governments, including Chicago and the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Mark Gordon, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader James Philip, said backers of the Cook County property tax cap are exploring options on how to revive the bill during the remainder of the fall session.
Meanwhile, Judy Erwin, a spokeswoman for Senate President Philip Rock, D-Oak Park, said Senate Democrats might offer their own property tax cap bill in the coming days.