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Cook Co. board again fails to override veto of sales tax rollback

Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Cook County commissioners once again failed to override county board President Todd Stroger's veto of a sales tax rollback Tuesday.

Although nine commissioners, a majority, voted to override, four-fifths of the board is needed to override the veto. Had the veto been successful, it would have reduced the county's portion of the sales tax from 1.75 percent to 1 percent in 2010 and then to .75 percent in 2011.

But it became clear from the discussion that commissioners, tired of passing rollbacks only to have them vetoed, will now sit down and try to work out a compromise with Stroger.

"I intend to have a meeting of the finance committee dealing with all items with the sales tax," said Finance Committee Chairman John Daley. "Hopefully, we can come up with a compromise that we can accept."

That means Daley will now allow Stroger's proposal, for rolling back just one-quarter percentage point, go to the floor for a vote.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin suggested the board and Stroger compromise and roll back a half-percentage point. Stroger, after the meeting, said he's willing to consider a half-point sales tax decrease, but to make it happen, commissioners are going to have to identify cuts to pay for it, he said.

"I think discussing money in this sense (talking only about the sales tax in terms of reducing by percentage points) is really playing to the media," Stroger said. "How about, 'what do we think we can cut out of the budget?' How about talking about that?"

"It would have to be something pretty significant," said Stroger. "They're really going to have to look at (cutting) public safety."

And while some commissioners disputed that assessment, Stroger was backed in that estimation by Daley, who opposed Stroger on the rollback and voted to override his veto.

To roll back more than a quarter-percentage point, "there is going to be a cut at the hospital and a cut at public safety. - To say there aren't going to be cuts (with a sales tax decrease) is wrong."

Democrats voting to override Stroger's veto Tuesday were Daley, Commissioner Forrest Claypool, Bridget Gainer and Suffredin. All are from Chicago except Suffredin, of Evanston. Republicans voting to override were Liz Gorman of Orland Park, Gregg Goslin of Glenview, Tony Peraica of Riverside, Tim Schneider of Bartlett, Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park. Voting to sustain Stroger's veto were Democrat Joan Murphy of Crestwood and Chicago Democrats William Beavers, Jerry Butler, Joseph Mario Moreno, Deborah Sims, and Robert Steele. Chicago Democrat Earlean Collins voted present and Chicago Democrat Roberto Maldonado was absent.

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