Updated: May 29, 2013 7:44AM
Politicians love to pander.
And no one gets pandered to more than old folks.
A good case in point is what Gov. Pat Quinn did last week.
He signed Senate Bill 1894, which raises the senior homestead exemption from $4,000 to $5,000. Quinn claims this will save seniors as much as $200 on their property taxes. The reality is that for most seniors it will save about $60.
It’s important to remember that cities levy an amount rather than a rate. So when a tax break is given to one group, it is made up by the rest of us.
For example, let’s say Moline levies $11.6 million in property taxes. But the state gives expanded tax breaks to Moline senior citizens. That means the rate paid by all of the taxpayers younger than 65 goes up.
So it’s not really a “tax break.” It’s better described as a shifting of taxes from one age group to another.
Is that good public policy?
Please keep in mind, home-owning seniors are one of the wealthiest groups in American society. The reason is simple: They often have reached a point where their homes are paid for, their retirement savings are secure and their personal expenses are at their lowest.
And yet, this is a group the governor and the Illinois General Assembly have chosen to pander to, perhaps because of their high rate of voter participation.
Scott Reeder is journalist in residence at the Illinois Policy Institute, a free markets think tank.