County Board caves on sales tax rollback
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
by Sun Times editorial staff
There was a real sense of anticipation in the Cook County Board chambers on Tuesday.
This was the day, finally, when the commissioners were expected to
stand up to Board President Todd Stroger and partially roll back the
unnecessary county sales tax hike he championed.
In July, Commissioner Sims voted with other commissioners to reduce
by half the 1 percentage point tax increase. But on Tuesday, when her
vote really mattered, she caved.
An override of Strogerís veto of the roll back required 14 of 17 commissioners. Sims was to be the 14th.
Sims changed course, she says, because itís not clear yet how a
loss in tax revenue might impact county services. Keeping all the
county health clinics open is her top priority.
We donít want to close clinics, either. Thatís why we were
glad to hear that the Cook County Health and Hospitals System proposed
budget ó released Tuesday, just in time for the vote ó didnít call for
That budget isnít set in stone, and Strogerís office said a
roll back would have required deeper cuts to the health system budget.
But thatís only if you, like Stroger, rely solely on the bluntest of instruments ó across-the-board cuts or big tax increases.
Believe it or not, there are alternatives: cutting wasteful
spending, axing useless programs, drawing in more revenue from
patients, trimming a flabby bureaucracy.
Stroger sold this tax increase by threatening massive cuts if he didnít get it.
He failed to convince us then, and the list of Stroger doubters grows every day.
Unfortunately, that list was one name short on Tuesday. With
Simsí vote, the next chance to roll back the county sales tax wonít
come until spring.
But donít give up hope.
In February, voters get the final say.