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Cook County commissioners fail to override Stroger veto

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Chicago Defender
by Wendell Huston

The Cook County Board failed Tuesday to override board President Todd Stroger’s sales tax repeal veto. The board needed 14 votes for the override but came up three short with commissioners voting 11-4 not to go over Stroger and rescind the one penny sales tax increase that went into effect last summer.

At Tuesday’s county board meeting, three of the five Black commissioners on the board voted not to repeal the sales tax increase: William Beavers, D-4th Dist., Jerry Butler, D-3rd Dist., and Deborah Sims, D-5th Dist.

Commissioners Earlean Collins, D-1st Dist., and Robert Steele, D-2nd Dist., voted present, which indicated that they were neutral.

“We need to maintain our health care. If we cut health care, we are doing a disservice to our residents,” Steele said at the meeting. “I support a progressive rollback. What I do not want is to be hung on a tree because the sales tax was rolled back all at once.”

Stroger said if the entire 1 percent sales tax increase were rolled back at once, it would mean having to close Provident Hospital on the South Side, south suburban Oak Forest Hospital and all 16 county health clinics.

Sims was absent last week when the majority of the board voted to repeal the sales tax increase that pushed the county’s share of the sales tax to 1.75 percent. By doing so, it increased the overall sales tax in Chicago to 10.25 percent, the highest in the nation.

“We should roll back the increase in increments but not all at once,” she said. “This is unfortunate that we’re in this position.”

Collins said when the board voted last week to repeal the tax increase, they were wrong for doing so.

“This body acted totally irresponsible. And you (Stroger) should have left it alone and not vetoed the measure,” Collins said Tuesday. “You should have let us work it out.”

Stroger said residents should not just look at the county portion on the sales tax but the whole tax picture.

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