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State House defeats cap on property assessments

Thursday, February 05, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
by DAVE MCKINNEY AND LESLIE GRIFFY

SPRINGFIELD -- Legislation championed by Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan to cap property assessments failed overwhelmingly in the House on Wednesday amid opposition from businesses, school districts and Downstate lawmakers.

On the day Houlihan and a City Hall contingent traveled to the Capitol to push the plan, the House defeated the measure 49-61, leaving it 11 votes shy of the 60 votes needed for passage, and its overall fate in doubt.

Supporters used a parliamentary maneuver to put Houlihan's bill on legislative life support and vowed to make another run at passing it, perhaps within the next few weeks.

Born from property assessment increases in Chicago that amounted to 40 percent and more, the proposal would have capped assessments at 7 percent annually over three years.

It would have applied to property owners in Chicago and suburban Cook County, and savings from the assessment cap would be limited to no more than $25,000 annually per owner.

"When you have homeowners who have been driven out of their homes who are my constituents and who vote, you have to pay attention to that," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the bill's lead sponsor.

But critics, led by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and a suburban school consortium, said it would shift an even greater property tax burden onto businesses and drain resources away from some school districts.

Even if that happens, support in the state Senate is uncertain after Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) expressed concerns that low-income residents could be hurt by the plan.



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