Jesiel blames lawmakers for pension crisis, says raising property taxes won't help
Rep. Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) points a finger of blame for the state’s growing pension crisis directly at lawmakers in Springfield.
"The pension crisis is a politician-made crisis with too many promises made to curry favor with certain constituencies which has spun out of control,” Jesiel told the Lake County Gazette. “We have to be realistic about the sustainability of the current pension requirements because there just isn't enough tax revenue in this state to continue to pay at the levels.”
Jesiel believes that will be the case no matter what sort of scheme lawmakers try to come up with in order to cover their tracks.
“I absolutely oppose an increase in property taxes for any reason,” she said. “In fact, we should be making every effort to reduce them. The purported benefit of adding a statewide property tax to fund pensions which are out of control statewide – and don't even begin to fix the local pension debt – only delays the desperate need for pension reform. In the meantime, residents continue to leave because they see the writing on the wall.”
According to an article in Wirepoints, the idea of levying a statewide special property assessment estimated to be around 1 percent of actual property value each year for 30 years has been floated by at least one Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago speaker.
“Many, many constituents have said that when they retire, they will move because they won't be able to afford the taxes on their homes, which are unjustly disproportionate to incomes,” Jesiel added. “It doesn't matter what your income is, that property tax bill must be paid – and unlike a mortgage, you never pay it off. Many already have left. I have a number of family members who have relocated just north of the border in Wisconsin.”
Currently, property taxes across Illinois stand at an average of 2.67 percent, the highest in the nation. In a working-class community of south Cook County, the average is nearly double that at over 5 percent, rendering for many an already untenable position even more unmanageable, Jesiel said.
“Those who are on fixed incomes and don't have the resources to move or to sell their homes for a reasonable price are in jeopardy of losing their homes,” she said. “I get many phone calls about this. It's happening already. That's intolerable.”