Stroger yet to decide on vetoing co. tax repeal

May 6, 2009 2:47:23 PM PDT
After saying he would veto the Cook County sales tax repeal, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said he's reconsidering his position.Stroger has five more days to decide what to do.

On Tuesday, Stroger said he was so angry about the commissioners' surprise 12-3 vote to repeal the sales tax increase, he immediately announced his intent to veto it. After sleeping on it, Stroger said he'll give it more thought.

Stroger said he plans to talk to other elected officials in the county -- including the sheriff, state's attorney and circuit clerk -- about whether they can endure deep cuts in their respective budgets.

"We have to figure out if they can live with some adjustments in their budget and at what rate," said Stroger.

On Tuesday, Stroger said the loss of $300 million generated by the 1-percent sales tax would mean service cuts at Stroger Hospital and the complete shut down of Provident and Oak Forest Hospitals, as well as 14 healthcare clinics.

"The people will speak when they find out that services are cut to a point that it endangers those that we are supposed to protect," said Earlene Collins, (D) Chicago.

"It's just basically strong arming us to go against something that doesn't represent with the commissioners are here to represent," said Elizabeth Gorman, (R) Orland Park.

Mayor Daley, whose city lies entirely within Cook County, said the commissioners would have to "work out" their financial problems related to a healthcare system mostly used by Chicagoans. But, he said he understood why the one-cent sales was repealed.

"It was strictly something that I think they had to do," said Mayor Daley.

"The mayor passed nine taxes in two years. Let's see you write about that," said Stroger.

On Tuesday, Stroger lost the support of the mayor's brother, County Board Finance Committee Chairman John Daley. John Daley- who supported the sales tax increase when it passed two years ago- joined Republicans in voting to repeal it.

"I don't think he wants to jump off the cliff by himself. And there aren't too many takers going off the cliff with President Stroger right now," said Tony Peraica, (R) Riverside.

By county law, President Stroger has until next Wednesday to announce a veto. If he does not do so by then, one cent of cook county's one and three quarters cents share of the sales tax would be repealed on January first of next year.

Meanwhile, the county board would have to find some $300 million in cuts and new revenues to maintain service levels.


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