Benford: ‘We can’t tax our way out of our issues’

by Karen Kidd, Will County Gazette

A proposed statewide 1 percent property tax would hit already over-burdened Illinois taxpayer and would only make their lives harder, the Republican candidate for the state House 98th District seat said during a recent interview.

“I do not support a property tax hike at this time,” Alyssia Benford told the Will County Gazette. “We have homes in the south suburbs that are underwater and a tax hike will make it harder to sell homes that are already undervalued.”

The proposed tax hike will not solve Illinois’ deepening financial issues, Benford, who is from Bolingbrook,  said.

“It just passes more of the financial burden onto the taxpayer,” she said.

Benford is running for the House seat currently held by Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) in November’s General Election. The 98th House District covers all or parts of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Joliet, Plainfield and Romeoville.

If elected, Benford will become the first African-American female Republican representative in the history of Illinois, according to the release she issued when she filed petitions for her run in November.

Benford’s comments come a couple of weeks after a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that recommends spending down the state’s enormous pension debt with a 1 percent statewide tax on residential property. The recommended tax would be in addition to property taxes – among the highest in the nation – that Illinoisan already pay.

“Because the debt is so large, it’s unrealistic to think that new taxes (such as a tax on legalized marijuana or financial transactions) or increases that affect only a narrow segment of the population will be enough,” the Federal Reserve in Chicago said in a post that ran with the report. “Illinois will have to find additional revenues from already existing tax bases, either by increasing rates, expanding the definition of what is taxable, or a combination of the two.”

The Conservative Illinois Policy Institute pointed to a crunch of the numbers done by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation on the proposed tax.

“The results aren’t pretty,” the Illinois Policy Institute reported, pointing to the foundation’s analysis of Illinois as 45th in the nation for property tax burden at “2.03 percent of median income, or $2,087 per capita.”

“If the Land of Lincoln implements this new 1 percent property tax, the Tax Foundation estimates Illinois’ property tax burden would fall behind every other state, ranking 50 out of 50,” the Illinois Policy Institute reported. “That ranking takes into account property tax collections per capita, property taxes as a percent of personal income and capital stock taxes.”

Reforms are the way to go, Benford said.

“We can’t tax our way out of our issues,” she said. “Cutting wasteful spending, creating jobs and making Illinois a business-friendly state will help grow our economy. Job growth in Illinois is extremely low compared to job growth in our neighboring states.”

On the heels of the Chicago Fed proposal, Illinois’ 42nd House District House Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) introduced House Resolution 1072 to oppose the proposed statewide property tax. So far, the resolution has 41 co-sponsors.

“I remain hopeful that our elected officials will recognize the mass exodus and work to change things as quickly as possible,” Benford said.

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