Thursday, October 04, 2007


I don't really have the energy to recap the bizarre political and procedural paths that the property tax legislation (the '7% bill) has taken over the last year, but suffice it to say that solving a Rubik's Cube is easier than pinning down the issues surrounding this legislation.

When you take an inherently complicated issue that resonates LOUDLY with constituents, and then mix in some pointed policy differences, and add some competing political agendas, you have a recipe for fireworks.

Yesterday's debate and vote was enough to give you a brain cramp. I was proud to be a sponsor of the underlying bill, and while I may consider it imperfect, I don't belief that there is any 'perfect' answer to this legislative quandary. The bill was the product of a lot of work by a lot of people, and represented a compromise agreed to by the interested parties. (Why the Governor unraveled all of that work through his amendatory veto is a whole story unto itself.)

But the situation was created in which a vote for the motion to override was technically a vote to reduce relief for homeowners, since the Governor's AV provided more relief that does the underlying bill. Further compounding the situation is President Jones' claim that he won't call the override motion if it was passed by the House. And if the two chambers don't agree on a single course of action, then the bill dies and homeowners get no relief.

At the same time, the amendatory veto is very likely constitutionally infirm and would almost assuredly be subject to a court challenge. Plus, I am not comfortable with making the bill permanent since I think that lessens the pressure to fix the underlying issues of how we assess property.

Accordingly, many of us were faced with a dilemma in that there was no real 'right' vote. After a pretty substantive, and respectful, debate, a number of us voted no, with the hope of furthering some additional discussions and a new compromise in the coming days.

The motion to override carried with over 20 votes to spare. But that didn't prevent something from happening that I don't recall seeing in my legislative career. Very shortly after the vote, the bill's sponsor had me removed from the bill. And today, in a move that either makes it better or worse, depending on how you look at it, my colleagues who also voted no on the motion were also removed from the bill.

10/3/2007HouseOverride Amendatory Veto - House Passed 092-019-000; MOTION #2
10/3/2007HouseRemove Chief Co-Sponsor Rep. John A. Fritchey
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Harry Osterman
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Sara Feigenholtz
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Greg Harris
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Jay C. Hoffman
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Julie Hamos
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Elizabeth Coulson
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Kathleen A. Ryg
10/4/2007HouseRemoved Co-Sponsor Rep. Karen May

Sure, I can hear the argument that 'if you're not going to vote in support of the override, you shouldn't be a sponsor', but that argument doesn't really hold in a situation like this one that had a lot of convoluted components to it. Sponsorship of a piece of legislation is most often used to indicate a legislator's support for, or commitment to, an issue. And by and large, it is something usually handled with professionalism and courtesy.

Now I have seen sponsors removed at times with some political considerations at play, but I've never seen a member remove eight colleagues from their own party from a bill in an act of retribution. Let alone in an instance when their motion still carried by an overwhelming margin.

Does it make a real difference at the end of the day? Of course not.

But it sure doesn't win any teamwork awards either.


At October 5, 2007 at 9:26 AM, Anonymous fedup dem said...

Rep. Fritchey, by now it should be painfully clear to you just how disfunctional state government and politics are here in Illinois. I am of the opinion that only a complete overhaul of the entire system, with new leadership in control, can resolve this ongoing mess. Hopefully the voters will avail themselves of the opportunity to bring about some change a year from now when the Con-con referenda appears on the November 2008 ballot.

At October 5, 2007 at 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are trying to have it both ways. You want credit for sponsoring a bill you voted against because it's a complicated situation? There's no logic there. The better thing to have done would have been to remove yourself as a sponsor instead of forcing the Majority Leader to do it for you. Sorry your feelings are hurt, but when the chips were down you voted against something she's worked dilligently on for nearly the whole year. Don't actions have consequences any more? Are there some bills you've sponsored that people have purposefully voted against, not as a result of hitting the wrong switch, and you've left them on as sponsors?

At October 5, 2007 at 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


the governor's veto, while ill-timed and somewhat dangerous, actually provides more relief. although John was a sponsor of the underlying legislation, the governor's version actually provided more relief, so it looks like john set ego aside and voted with his constituents on this one. the override sailed out of the house anyway, so currie was just making a misdirected, petty point.

At October 5, 2007 at 12:31 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 10:36,

I assure you that my feelings are far from hurt, I tried to make that clear in my post.

Perhaps I didn't make it sufficiently clear, but there was/is far more to the underlying issue than meets the eye. The chips were far from down, and all those removed from the bill had exceedingly legitimate reasons for casting their votes as they did.

And no, I have not taken somebody off of a bill because of a vote. And while I might if they flipped on me and wound up killing one of my initiatives, I couldn't see doing it if I was still overwhelmingly victorious and they had a very legitimate reason for their vote.

But that's just me.

At October 5, 2007 at 3:02 PM, Anonymous silentk said...


The issue has not resolved itself, and we await the action of the Senate to: 1) override the veto, or 2) introduce new legislation codifying the Governor's changes.

Will you be working to gain support on HB315, sams 2&3 and pass property tax reform at the $40,000 cap with both your Senate counterparts and members of the House? Or, do you find the "permanent" aspect of this legislation too much of a hinderance for real reform of the Illinois property tax system to support?

Many of your constituents appreciate the "no" vote.

At October 5, 2007 at 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you and your colleagues. Looks like you were in good company; that list included some of the very best reps in the IL State House.

Too bad Madigan pulled the strings as part of his ongoing feud with the Governor. Now, people will not get the relief they deserve.

As taking you off as a co-sponsor, Currie/Madigan did you a favor. I wouldn't want to see the mailer for those that were part of an effort to cheat people out of more relief like they were.

Lets hope Madigan doesn't hold up the capital bill out of more pettiness. We need relief now and one casino in Chicago will not do it.

At October 8, 2007 at 11:12 AM, Anonymous Truthful James said...

John, this matter is a true definition of a tar baby.

The ideal situation, beyond all of the fear and hate and discontent would be to reach an accommodation under which the State multiplier would be reduced to 1.00 That is not going to happen during this century, but a 2.83 or higher multiplier is of itself an indictment of the whole assessment system as it has degraded itself over time.

The problem truly is that the Assessor's Office has corrupted the authority granted to it to do differential assessment by class. It ignored the 250% rule granted it by statute and curried political favor with the taxpayers.

As long as the appeal process was contained within the County it could do so with impunity. It was the appearance of the State Property Tax Appeal Board which took matters out of the Machine's hands and enabled commercial taxpayers to have their assessments lowered to conform with the legal 250% spread.

Lowering their assessments, however, caused a parallel increase in the multiplier -- not a good thing.

The 7% solution is an artificial device as well with advantages for some but not for all.

Once again the optimal answer is this. Freeze all valuations of whatever type at the present level until improvements on a property or a sale occurs. Then calculate the new valuation based on the sale price or the value of the improvements. Eliminate the multiplier for property tax purposes, continue its use for the State's distribution of revenues.
As soon as is possible eliminate the fractional valuation system as Iowa and Indiana have done. Use 100% of estimated market value as the criterion. Adjust the maximum tax rates in the several funds accordingly. Eliminate Levy limits and make the taxpayer protect himself by voting the rascals out.

Politicians like to have the taxpayers remain asleep while they do their work. That is no way to run a state, a city, a school district.


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