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40-year-old property tax relief program victim of state budget cuts

Joeine Sheehan

Joeine Sheehan

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Updated: July 24, 2012 9:51AM

SPRINGFIELD — This year marks the last time Joeine Sheehan will get a $35 check from the state under a four-decade-old property tax grant program that Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration killed Friday, another casualty of the state’s budgetary meltdown.

Though meager, the annual check was something the 72-year-old retiree from River Grove, who lives off a monthly $1,400 Social Security check, counted on to buy a new pair of shoes or use partly toward a bottle of vitamins she ordinarily might not be able to afford.

“They’re not giving us much of a life, are they?” Sheehan told the Chicago Sun-Times, when asked how cutting the state Circuit Breaker program would impact her.

“With the money we’re getting and that they’re taking away from us, it’s not fair,” she said.

Quinn’s administration announced Friday that, beginning July 1, the state Circuit Breaker program no longer would offer as many as 120,000 low-income senior citizens who own or rent their homes a property tax grant.

Circuit Breaker was formed by the state in 1972 to assist senior citizens and the disabled with their property taxes. All told, during the fiscal year that ends on June 30, the state spent $24 million on the program, allowing for typical grants of about $90 all the way up to $350, based on a recipient’s income level.

But no money was appropriated for the program for the fiscal year starting July 1, Quinn’s administration said, leaving it with no choice but to shut it down.

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