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Senate makes Cook County property tax cap law

Friday, October 12, 2007
Crain's Chicago Business
by AP

(AP) — Cook County homeowners will get some property tax relief after months of bickering by state officials, although it won't be permanent.
The state Senate voted 55-1 Friday for a 7% cap on property tax assessments in the Chicago area, joining the House in overriding Gov. Rod Blagojevich's veto, meaning the relief becomes law.
Lawmakers had approved the aid earlier this year. It provides a homestead exemption of $33,000 this year that phases out over three years.
Blagojevich said that wasn't good enough and used his amendatory veto power to bump the exemption up to $40,000 and make it permanent. But cap advocates couldn't muster the legislative support for that proposal.
"We could do a lot better," said Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan. "It is past the 12th hour and people need relief. We need something for them."
Chicago legislators were under heavy pressure from residents seeing property tax bills climb significantly in recent years and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proposing to raise taxes even more.
Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, was the only one to vote against it, saying he didn't want to give cap opponents — including business groups — a victory by passing a plan that doesn't give long-term relief. Others agreed but said they would support the measure anyway.
"It's wrong," said Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago. "The governor was correct."
Lawmakers were prepared to wrap up their fall veto session Friday, but many expect they will soon return to handle other business. Link said legislators could try again to push for a stronger cap measure.
But that could face the same roadblocks from lawmakers who say smaller, short-term aid is best.
"This is the right thing to do," said Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago. "It's about time."



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