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Gov. Rauner urges Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios to resign

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WHEELING, Ill. -- Gov. Bruce Rauner said Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios should resign, after a report in the Chicago Tribune concluded that Berrios' office is giving preferential treatment to businesses over middle and lower income homeowners when evaluating properties for taxes.

Rauner held a news conference Monday at the home of a Wheeling couple who said their property taxes have doubled over the last ten years.

A recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune and Pro-Publica against Joe Berrios uncovered assessment records that show owners with the greatest access to resources and attorneys have been paying less than they should be in property taxes.

The investigation found that thousands of expensive downtown buildings have been undervalued by Berrios, saving building owners millions of dollars.

The Tribune found, of more than 40,000 parcels of commercial and industrial properties, more than two-thirds had the same valuation they did five years ago, and a fourth had the same valuation nearly ten years ago.

Under Berrios' predecessor, James Houlihan, only one percent of properties held the same valuation for two reassessment cycles.

The investigation also alleges that attorneys who seek tax breaks benefit from the system, representing these property owners and in turn donating big bucks to Berrios' campaign fund.

"He (Berrios) and his friends are becoming extraordinarily wealthy and rich while the middle class is getting socked with higher property taxes and our schools are being defunded," Rauner said.

"It's corrupt. It's wrong. We've got to change it, and it has to start with Joe Berrios leaving. He should resign immediately."

Berrios released a statement dismissing Rauner's call and telling the governor to step down:  "This attack is coming from a governor who just last week complained about being 'not in charge' of the state.  Like Donald Trump, Bruce Rauner relies on blatant political stunts in a bid to save his failing administration and re-election bid."