“Understanding Your Tax Bill and Learning How to Appeal Assessments” Event Set for Tuesday, June 6
At a time when many homeowners feel they are being taxed out of their homes, it is important that people understand the assessment process and know what exemptions and remedies are available to them.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 6, I am partnering with Kane County Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong for a free seminar on understanding the property tax assessment process and learning how to appeal property tax assessments. The event will be held from 6:30-7:30 PM at the St. Charles Public Library (Miller Haase Community Room), 1 South 6th Avenue, in St. Charles.
After a PowerPoint presentation, attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session. Representatives of the County Assessor’s Office will also be in attendance to help individual taxpayers with specific issues regarding their tax assessment. Attendees do not need to bring their tax bills or assessment statements.
RSVPs are appreciated for this event. For more information about this free event or to RSVP, please contact Hannah at email@example.com, or call Senator DeWitte’s office at (847) 214-8245.
Illinois Budget Plan Likely Contains Hidden Spending
By now, you may know that the General Assembly passed a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that sets a new record-high spending of $50.6 billion. While there were many good elements in the budget, I could not support it because it was filled with misplaced priorities that placed the interests of special interest groups ahead of those of everyday Illinois families. Following the adoption of the budget, I issued this statement:
“Republicans brought some very important priorities to the negotiation table this year. We wanted to support our manufacturers, our corporations, and the small businesses that provide jobs to millions of Illinoisans. Through our priorities, we wanted to grow jobs in this state so people could earn a good wage, have benefits, and put good food on their tables. Unfortunately, most of our policy initiatives, like the elimination of the estate tax, which would help generational farming families, didn’t make the budget. Our Research & Development tax credits, which would provide opportunities for existing businesses to invest in new product development, so they could create more jobs with good wages and benefits, also wasn’t included. A thriving economy depends on a robust business community, and this budget misses the mark.
“There is not one legislator in the General Assembly who didn’t hear from mayors and other community leaders in their home districts asking for restoration of the Local Government Distributed Fund funds owed to them. This is tax revenue generated locally and sent to the state, and per a long-standing agreement, 10% of those funds are supposed to be returned to local units of government to help fund their budgets. While we made some progress, we didn’t go nearly far enough. The majority party continues to sweep nearly half of these funds for other state-level uses. Our municipalities deserved much better from this body.”
Questions remain about whether the budget will truly be balanced at the year’s end. Hidden within the pages of the 3,500-page budget and its budget implementation document are several “low-balled” spending initiatives that could put the state’s spending well over expected revenues.
One example of possible “phantom” spending in this year’s budget, which also served as a major point of contention during negotiations, is a program solely funded by Illinois taxpayers that provides free healthcare to undocumented immigrants. Illinois is currently the only state in the nation to provide this level of healthcare to noncitizens ages 42 and older.
During budget hearings throughout the year, the Governor’s Administration provided a cost estimate of the program at a whopping $1.1 billion. Despite knowing this estimate, the Majority Party only allocated $550 million to the program in the budget—just half of what it is expected to cost taxpayers. While Democrats claim that they also provided the Governor with rule-making authority to rein in the ballooning program, it’s hard to believe that a rule change will be able to reduce the costs by half, especially after the Governor and the Majority Party have made it clear they would not be willing to cut existing enrollees from the program.
Another example of hidden spending is the anticipation of a new AFSCME contract, which the Governor is expected to agree to, at an additional cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Funding for this new contract for thousands of state employees was conveniently left out of the budget. With just a $100 million surplus in the legislatively approved FY 2024 budget plan, it is doubtful that the minimal surplus will be enough to cover the true costs of the state.
Senator DeWitte Supports Reinstatement of Blue Collar Jobs Act
During the budget negotiation process, I was one of two Senate Republicans invited to participate in the process. In the days leading up to the approval of the FY 2024 budget, we were able to work collaboratively to bring back an important package of tax incentives that create jobs and grow the Illinois economy. After being negotiated as part of the 2019 budget package and then frozen by Governor Pritzker prior to its implementation in 2021, Illinois’ Blue Collar Jobs Act (BCJA) has been reinstated and is now accepting applications.
The reinstatement of this Act is a definite step in the right direction for a state that has developed a reputation over time as being extremely business unfriendly. Rather than placing additional burdens on our job creators, we are finally putting businesses first, and providing them with incentives to build, stay, grow, and thrive in Illinois.
The Blue Collar Jobs Act program supports large-scale economic development activities by providing income tax credits to companies that make substantial capital investments in Illinois. The tax credits are based on the wages paid to construction workers employed on eligible projects, and are based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. The Act includes:
- High Impact Business (HIB) Construction Jobs Credit: Equals 50% of the “incremental income tax” attributable to qualified construction jobs for a designated HIB taxpayer during the construction period with an investment of at least $12 million.
- Enterprise Zone (EZ) Construction Jobs Credit: Equals 50% of the incremental income tax attributable to qualified construction jobs for approved capital investments of at least $10 million located in an EZ during the construction period.
- River Edge (RE) Construction Jobs Credit: Equals 50% of the incremental income tax attributable to qualified construction jobs for approved rehabilitation plan of at least $ 1 million located in a RE during the construction period (applicable for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2021).
- New Construction Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Credit: Discretionary credit for up to 50% of the incremental income tax attributable to qualified construction jobs during the construction period for approved capital investment projects over $10 million.
To be eligible, a company must be located in an Enterprise Zone or a River Edge Redevelopment Zone, designated as a High Impact Business, or have an agreement under the Economic Development for a Growing Economy Program. Each pre-requisite program has differing job creation and capital investment minimums/requirements.
I would encourage all entrepreneurs to look at Illinois when choosing where to take their capital investment. Helping middle class families by providing good jobs with decent wages is incredibly important, and the Blue Collar Jobs Act will go far in accomplishing that goal.
Additional information about the program and a universal application can be found at https://dceo.illinois.gov/expandrelocate/incentives/bcja.html .
Audit Slams State’s Handling of COVID Relief Money
In 2020, the Governor announced the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program. Operated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the program used federal tax revenue to give $585 million in grants to businesses to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent audit of the program, the Illinois Office of the Auditor General found that the spending “failed to work as advertised” and that the program itself had insufficient oversight.
One of the key failures of the program was the DCEO’s inability to provide documentation of the Round 1 selection process for recipients of the grants. This implication is worsened by another finding that multiple administrators did not comply with conflict-of-interest policies wherein they had a vested interest in which companies received grants. With the fairness of the awarded grants being called into question, additional findings—that $3.42 million was awarded to ineligible applicants and the program failed to verify with businesses their compliance to the program’s rules—show serious flaws with the execution of the program.
Alongside these findings, the Auditor General’s report made 15 recommendations to the DCEO for future grant programs, including directing them to develop and maintain proper documentation on how the program selects grant administrators, develops administrative rules, checks for the accuracy of applications, and complies with state statutes.
Since 2002, the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) has hosted nominations and selections for the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame. These nominations include outdoor sportsmen and women, conservationists, or preservationists who have made significant contributions or exhibited dedication in preserving, promoting, enhancing, or supporting natural resources or outdoor recreational opportunities.
The number of inductees varies, but historically no more than five have been selected each year. After being selected, the honorees are invited to the annual Hall of Fame Gala.
Nominations are currently open and will close July 14. All nomination applications are to be submitted by email in PDF form. Mail-in applications will not be accepted. More information on the application process can be found on ICF’s website.