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Cook County states attorney cautions budget cuts would make criminal justice system 'dysfunctional'

Friday, February 22, 2008
Chicago Tribune

If the Cook County Board fails to boost revenue and instead slashes spending, the criminal justice system could become "dysfunctional," Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine said Thursday.

Devine, Sheriff Tom Dart and other county leaders said the cuts would eliminate hundreds of police, prosecutors, public defenders and clerks.

"The cuts that are being talked about this year, on top of the cuts that were made last year, really are bringing us to a point where the system could become dysfunctional," Devine said. "The burden is on the County Board now to come up with a responsible answer to this."

None of the elected officials who spoke, however, came out in support of County Board President Todd Stroger's plan to increase sales taxes to 2 percent from .75 percent.

Stroger is one vote shy of winning approval for his tax increase, and the county budget must be passed by next Friday.

Without new revenue, Stroger's proposed budget, which calls for more than 1,100 new hires and includes a spending increase of 6.8 percent, would have to be cut by 18 percent, Finance Committee Chairman John Daley (D-Chicago) has said.



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