Mussman opponent says talk alone won't bring down property taxes, keep people in IIlinois
Jillian Bernas foresees a bleak future for Illinois' 56th District, based on statistics.
Running against incumbent Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) again this year — Bernas reaped 44.7 percent of the vote in 2016 — the international relations manager and Republican called the recent Illinois Policy report “Growing out of Control: Property Taxes Putting Increasing Burden on Illinois Taxpayers" troubling.
“Illinois currently has an average effective property-tax rate of 2.32 percent, the second highest in the country and growing,” Bernas told the NW Illinois News. “This means that we would pay 2.32 percent of our home’s value every year in taxes, essentially renting our future home from the government.”
Purchasing property herself in District 56, which includes Schaumburg, Hanover Park, Roselle and Elk Grove Village, looks doubtful due to the continuous tax increase, according to the former teacher.
“My fiancé and I grew up in Illinois and want to have a home here to raise our family in one day; however, we are very reluctant to buy a home,” Bernas said. “In Schaumburg, the average property tax bill was $4,544 in 2015. With property taxes outpacing the growth of median household incomes by 3.3 times since 1990, and currently representing 6.4 percent of household income, we question if this is a smart financial decision for our family.”
Bernas is not the only one breaking down the numbers.
“Illinois families are making these calculations every single day, seeing their friends getting more home value in others states on Facebook, and sitting down to plan their exit strategy,” Bernas said. “My opponent talks a lot about property taxes, but unlike my opponent I am running for state representative to see that legislators don’t just talk about property taxes, but actually do something about them."
But Bernas refuses to give up, noting two possible solutions to the tax increase.
“First, the steady growth in property taxes needs to begin to be addressed by either capping property taxes at a percentage of home value or freezing them at current values,” Bernas said. “However, because of my experience in local government, I know that this will put local governments in a tough position. Therefore, additional reforms need to be made to lower municipal costs.”
Citing a 2016 poll by the Paul Simon Institute at the Southern Illinois University, Bernas said most people say the taxes are driving them out of Illinois.
“People are now voting with their feet, and Illinois was the only state in the Midwest that shrunk in population for the third year in a row,” Bernas said. “I would say it’s clear the tax burden is directly affecting Illinois’ outmigration.”
If elected, Bernas said she will not vote for career politicians like House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), whom she says benefits personally from increasing property taxes.
“Illinois legislators for many years have taken advantage of families in our state expecting them to pick up the tab for bad policy decisions,” Bernas said.