2009 Cook County Budget Lacks Incentives for Accountability from President Stroger
On February 20, 2009 the Cook County Budget was passed without any incentives to make President Todd Stroger accountable to the citizens of Cook County. I voted along with Commissioner Mike Quigley against the budget. The budget contained no new taxes and modest cuts in spending.
While I was able to stop a last minute attempt to bond $740,000,000 worth of unnecessary debt, this issue is not dead yet. President Stroger has said he will continue to push for this borrowing. I will continue to oppose all bonding.
This budget contains serious underestimates of key revenues and no requirement for real management of the County’s business. The underestimate of revenue takes away any incentive to maximize various earned revenue sources from the Federal and State governments. It also allows for a sloppy management style since there will be no incentive to meet budgeted goals because there will be extra funds available during the year.
In addition, the budget doesn’t hold President Stroger responsible for properly managing the County workforce and procurement practices. As the recent court losses on hiring issues pertaining to employees fired for egregious reasons show, this type of mismanagement can cost taxpayers millions. Also, improper procurement practices have led to millions in contract overpayments.
The only bright spots in this budget are the management gains taxpayers have seen from having the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board, the independent board that has operated the county’s healthcare system for nearly 6 months, and having Chief Judge Timothy Evans run for the last 8 months the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. These two changes, which I sponsored, have begun to correct years of patronage and contracting abuse. Both changes have increased our ability to maximize Federal and State funding and protect Cook County taxpayers.
I will continue to fight for accountability from President Stroger. I will also push for incentives to make President Stroger more responsible to the taxpayers.