Share the article: ICYMI: The Burke case and the need for property tax reform in Illinois

ILGOP Chairman Schneider renews call to prohibit lawmakers from performing property tax appeals legal work, agrees with Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s proposed ban for City Council

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider authored a guest column in the Daily Herald discussing the need for property tax reform, specifically prohibiting the practice of lawmakers at any level of government from operating law firms on the side that perform property tax appeals. Chicago Alderman Ed Burke and House Speaker Mike Madigan are among those lawmakers.

From Chairman Schneider’s guest column:

…Nowhere else is the property tax system so corrupt and unethical. The recent indictment of property tax attorney and Chicago Alderman Ed Burke for extortion of a Burger King franchise in his ward is simply the tip of an enormous iceberg. The public has known for years that the entire property tax system is fundamentally broken, yet no reforms have been enacted by our elected officials to correct it.

Either we demand a fairer system of property taxation in Cook County, and elected officials who actually look out for their constituents, or we are doomed to lose even more residents to the Republican-run, taxpayer-friendly states of Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and Florida.

Don’t let this moment pass with a cynical acceptance of Chicago’s corrupt culture. We must reform our property tax system and end conflicts of interest. We can no longer allow the very people who write public policy to profit from it.

Legislators and policymakers — the Ed Burkes and Mike Madigans of Illinois — should be prohibited from performing property tax appeal legal work as long as they are elected officials. It is impossible for them to perform the public work the people entrusted them to do without considering the profitability and interests of their own private law firms. They should be free to choose one or the other, but not both…

Recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled an ethics reform package following the Burke indictment that would “preclude council members from representing developers and property owners in the kind of property tax abatement work Burke did through his outside law firm.” Chairman Schneider supports Mayor Emanuel’s proposed ban and urges Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly to take up legislation that would enact similar rules for state lawmakers.

Crain’s Chicago Business also published an editorial calling on Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker and Chicago’s next mayor to outlaw the “indefensible” practice of “[representing] businesses on their property tax appeals and hold immensely powerful political offices.”


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