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Health care workers back Stroger tax hikes

Thursday, October 25, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by NORMAN PARISH

Amid dozens of average taxpayers at Wednesday night's public hearing on Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's proposed tax increases were a large number of health care professionals who support the plan.
But other residents were critical of the proposal to increase sales, gasoline and parking taxes to pay for the $3.2 billion county government budget and the $153 million Forest Preserve budget.
The three-hour public hearing in the auditorium of south suburban Oak Forest Hospital, attended by about 280 people, was the first of four on the plan.
Provident Hospital nurse Debra Ali said the tax increases are necessary to support the county's public health care system. She said, for example, trained professionals have had to take on additional tasks.
"Nurses have become furniture movers," Ali said. At the same time, she said, "We're really trying to work together."
'I can't ask for a raise'
Alsip resident Jean Boruck, a 79-year-old retired machinist, complained about Stroger's plan: "I'm on a fixed income, and I can't ask for a raise."
Myrna Jurcev, 64, of Oak Lawn, said the County Board needs to do a better job of looking at the revenue stream instead of raising taxes. She said they need to look at how the Board of Review looks at business tax breaks.
"They should do their homework and get into the nitty-gritty of the revenue," Jurcev said.
Milton Shackelford, 64, of Flossmoor, said the plan is fair because the increases would be equally distributed.
The hearing also addressed a variety of other issues, including budget cuts at Oak Forest Hospital, a county facility that houses patients needing long-term care.
The next hearing, on Forest Preserve operations, will be at 6 p.m. tonight at the Maywood courthouse.


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