Gov. Bruce Rauner today issued an executive order declaring it impermissible for state legislators to represent clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals of assessment decisions made in the state’s 102 counties.
Calling the practice a “clear conflict of interest that must end,” Rauner said the order, which is effective immediately, is a key step toward restoring public trust and motivating lawmakers to tackle meaningful property-tax reform.
“We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents — not to mention our property taxes overall are simply too high,” Rauner said. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.
“Legislators who make money representing clients who are appealing their property-tax assessments have little incentive to do what’s right when it comes to property-tax reform,” Rauner continued. “Frankly, they have everything to gain from the status quo. The action I’m taking today marks the beginning of the end of a dubious era.”
- Directs members of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to prohibit state legislators from participating in appeals coming before them.
- Directs the board to prohibit legislators from receiving any fee or compensation, directly or indirectly, through any interest in a partnership, limited liability corporation or other business entity representing clients before it.
- Notes a State of Illinois Code of Personal Conduct requirement that government be conducted in a transparent, ethical, accountable and motivated manner.
- Points out that state officials and employees “may not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with their official state duties and responsibilities,” according to the conduct code.
- Directs the board to amend its rules and procedures to reflect the executive order.
“Conflicts of interest clearly arise where legislators and regulators receive financial benefits by charging Illinois citizens and businesses through a morass of red tape those same officials created by passing complicated rules and establishing confusing and bureaucratic processes,” the executive order states.
Crippling taxes overall and an onerous property-tax system are eroding the state’s ability to thrive and driving homeowners and small businesses toward insolvency — and increasingly, toward the border.
While property taxes are cited frequently as a top reason for leaving Illinois, the state is duty-bound to take concrete steps to correct the system, Rauner said. He noted the state’s population declined by an estimated 33,700 in 2017, the greatest numeric population loss of any state, and the fourth year in a row that Illinois’ population dropped.
“Illinoisans are tired of a rigged system that allows lawmakers to profit at their expense,” Rauner said. “I’m here to fight on their behalf.”