Illinois legislator continues push for property tax relief as state sees higher revenues


The Illinois State Capitol | Greg Bishop, the Center Square

Illinois Republican state legislators continue to push for policy changes to address what they see as a poor business climate. 

The credit rating assigned to Illinois by Fitch Ratings, A- in November 2023, is far below the ratings given to most of the 50 states. As of early 2024, most states have AA or AAA credit ratings, and can borrow money at much lower expense to taxpayers than can Illinois. 

In a news conference Tuesday at the state capitol in Springfield, state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, said Democrats are promoting a narrative that “all is well.” He wants a property tax relief plan.

“The idea is to start giving property tax relief, so as we gave each school district a dollar, they would have to reduce their levy by a dollar,” said Ugaste. “This would generate more businesses and people coming to areas instead of leaving because property taxes would then be lower. As business grows and people start coming back to an area, the tax base is then spread out and we start getting more revenue in state coffers and local property taxes as more people start paying in.”

The spokesperson for Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, responded in a statement to The Center Square. 

“It’s unfortunate Rep. Ugaste hasn’t voted for any of the budgets that Democrats passed to earn Illinois nine credit upgrades in under two years. but with press conferences like these, my hope is renewed that we can count on his support this year,” Welch spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll said.

Ugaste said he’s glad Illinois has had the credit increases.

“I am glad those budgets brought those about but if you look at why Illinois’ economy is doing so much better and our revenue has increased so much, it is in large part due to inflation,” Ugaste said. “Our costs stayed what they were but inflation ticked everything up. So while we benefited from it, our people aren’t benefiting because their wages haven’t kept up.”

Illinoisans pay the second highest property taxes in the nation. Illinois is tied for the worst credit rating in the nation.

Alongside Ugaste Tuesday, state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Murrayville, said that despite revenues being up and surpassing fiscal year 2025 budget estimates, Illinois is in poor financial condition in comparison to neighboring states.

In a Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability meeting on the state’s revenue estimates, COGFA Director Clayton Klenke said several data points show the economy is slowing, which can be expected as a result of the Federal Reserve tightening as an attempt to rein in inflation.

“While some of the economic indicators have slowed, revenues have continued to meet expectations compared to the enacted budget,” said Klenke. “Thanks to some one-time revenue receipts, they are forecast to surpass the enacted budget estimates.”

Davidsmeyer said the state actually has court orders demanding the state invest in services for people who cannot take care of themselves and that there’s little to show for when it comes to the increased revenue.

“While there is continued growth in revenue, in taxes paid to the state of Illinois, it’s a decrease compared to where other economies are in surrounding states,” said Davidsmeyer. “Illinois has gone from about $18.5 billion in revenue from income tax to about $33 billion. We are looking at almost doubling our income tax revenue over the last decade.”

Ugaste said Republican priorities, like public safety, are not included when crafting the budget. If Republicans were included, Ugaste said the state would be in a better situation on all kinds of levels.

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