The Cook County Board today continued its political
sparring over last year's sales tax increase, failing to override the
latest veto of a measure to repeal the tax.
Commissioners voted 9-6 to override Board President Todd Stroger's
latest veto of a tax rollback plan, but it takes 14 out of 17 votes to
overturn a veto at the county. One commissioner was absent and
Commissioner Earlean Collins (D-Chicago) voted "present."
More than a week ago, Stroger vetoed a proposal that would have
rolled back last year's penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase over two
years. Three-quarters of the increase would have been rolled back on
Jan. 1 and the rest one year later.
Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park) led the charge to
override, saying that the increase in a "very regressive" tax has led
to "horrendous downfalls" in businesses in suburbs that abut other
counties where the taxes are lower.
Stroger has proposed rolling back one-quarter of the increase,
saying new federal revenue makes that possible. But he maintains the
rest is needed to prevent budget cuts that would decimate the county's
vast public health and criminal justice systems.
"Nothing in the world has changed," Stroger said, defending his
veto. "We're the only government that I can think of not scrambling
around talking about how much debt we are in."
He later added, "I was an investment banker for seven years, so I know what we are talking about."
It was the second time Stroger vetoed a rollback, prompting some
commissioners to refer to a "Groundhog Day" approach to the issue.
Others called it a game of ping pong.
But Commissioner John Daley (D-Chicago), chairman of the county
Finance Committee, said he will call a meeting next week to search for
a middle ground on the issue. "Hopefully, we can come up with a
compromise that the board can accept and will accept," he said.
Some of Stroger's most ardent supporters on the board said they, too, would like to find a compromise.
The sales tax looms large as an election issue next year, when Stroger's job and all 17 commissioner seats are on the ballot.