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Next budget fight begins -- with hopes for an early finish
County health, prosecutor raises dominate debate

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman Staff writer

Cook County President Todd Stroger could be gearing up for an early launch of his 2008 budget.
Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) said Tuesday Stroger wants to pass next year's budget in November, before the 2008 fiscal year begins. The past several county budgets haven't passed until February, with the fiscal year well under way.
Stroger has scheduled a news conference with Chicago aldermen today to pressure the Legislature to include in the state budget $100 million in new funding for the ailing county health system.
State legislators have been deadlocked on a budget plan for weeks.
Health bureau chief Robert Simon has said that without a major infusion of money, the county will be forced to close one of its three hospitals next year.
Stroger still is dealing with fallout from his 2007 budget. Prosecutors in the state's attorney's office are pushing hard for a cost-of-living raise, which they've been denied for three years.
Stroger has said he cannot grant that raise until the county acquires money from the sale of land at Oak Forest Hospital. The sale is unlikely to be completed before the end of this year, Stroger aides said Tuesday.
Stroger and state's attorney Dick Devine's office said they remain in negotiations over the raises and might identify other funding sources.


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