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Speaker urges Senate to OK '7 percent solution'

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Michael J. Madigan
Letter to the Editor

To put a brake on skyrocketing property tax bills in some Cook County neighborhoods, the Illinois General Assembly in 2003 passed legislation commonly called the "7 percent solution." The measure limits the annual taxable increase for homeowners to 7 percent a year with a cap of $20,000 of increased equalized assessed value. Last month, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the House passed Senate Bill 13 to extend the life of the 7 percent solution and target additional relief to those who need it most.
This measure is a thoughtful response to two of the most commonly cited reasons for re-enacting the 7 percent solution: to ensure that lower-and middle-income families can afford to live in the city and to keep longtime homeowners from being priced out of their own neighborhoods when those areas gentrify. It balances the need to raise sufficient revenues to operate local governments without unduly shifting that burden onto homeowners of modest means.
The bill provides property tax relief to all homeowners, regardless of income. It especially helps those of modest means who have owned their homes for at least 10 years. For these families, the exemption cap is removed altogether and the annual taxable increase in equalized assessed value is limited to 7 percent for those earning $75,000 or less and to 10 percent for those who earn between $75,000 and $100,000.
Further, this year's measure increases the general homestead exemption statewide and contains other provisions to provide additional property tax relief to senior citizens, disabled individuals, service members returning from duty overseas and disabled veterans. These provisions will be a permanent part of state law; the 7 percent solution sunsets in 2010. At that point, the General Assembly will evaluate its effect and whether it should be renewed.
It is my understanding that the county assessor's office will need time to program computers and prepare revised property tax assessments to send in the fall. Therefore, I urge the Senate to act quickly to pass these sensible reforms and urge the governor to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.
Michael J. Madigan, of Chicago, is speaker of the Illinois House.

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