Serious efforts are underway in the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation to shift billions of dollars in education pension obligations from the state to local schools.

If proponents get their way, it could be disastrous to homeowners, who inevitably would see their property tax bills increase.

Last year, House Speaker Michael Madigan made it clear that the cost shift is a top priority, and there are rumblings that it could come back as part of a modified education formula comprehensive bill.
Also, if the recent pension-reform legislation is declared unconstitutional, it’s likely the speaker will push the cost shift again.

I am opposed to the cost shift because two-thirds of all Illinois schools are operating in the red and districts simply cannot afford to take on the state’s pension obligations. Shifting billions of dollars in obligations to local schools essentially would create an unfunded mandate that local schools cannot afford.

There probably will be efforts to pass the pension cost shift legislation as soon as the November veto session. To counter these efforts, I have introduced a House resolution to oppose the proposed cost shift.

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The Illinois state Legislature has become the theater of the absurd. On May 30, Democrats rammed through an unbalanced budget that was cobbled together with a combination of borrowing schemes, fund sweeps, payment delays and inflated revenue projections that have become all too familiar tactics in state government.

The nearly $36 billion budget is not even close to being balanced. The revenue forecast passed unanimously by the House earlier this year using information from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability projected fiscal 2015 revenues to be about $34.495 billion.

Article VIII, Section 2 of the Illinois Constitution states, “Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.”

Yet, this is precisely what the Democrat-controlled Legislature did.

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Property tax relief has been under discussion in Springfield for decades, yet only New Jersey has higher property taxes than the Land of Lincoln. If nothing changes, it is only a matter of time before Illinois passes New Jersey.
In 2012, residential property owners in Illinois paid $17.5 billion in property taxes. According to the Tax Policy Center, the average residential property tax bill in Illinois is $4,469 and climbing.