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Quinn ought to sign bill cutting Stroger veto power — fast

Thursday, November 05, 2009
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Perhaps he's just being careful. But Gov. Pat Quinn is being awfully quiet about whether and when he'll sign the bill that cuts Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's veto power.

   As my colleague Monée Fields-White reported Wednesday, a new study by DePaul University found clear signs that the big sales tax hike Mr. Stroger is protecting has hurt retail business dearly in suburban Cook. Shoppers naturally shop where prices are cheaper, and it makes little sense to force stores out of business in the name of funding Cook County.

   The bill in question would reduce the votes needed to override Mr. Stroger's veto, from four-fifths of the board (14) to a more reasonable three-fifths (11). That likely would clear the way to repeal the penny-on-the-dollar hike, pushing the sales tax in Chicago back below the critical 10% threshold.

   The board is due to meet on Nov. 18, and some commissioners would like to begin the process then of passing a repeal, waiting a month for Mr. Stroger to veto, and then overriding.

  But though he earlier strongly suggested he favored such a bill, Mr. Quinn through a spokesman has said only that he's "reviewing" the measure. That sounds suspiciously like the governor is cooking up some sort of political deal that would get him votes from Mr. Stroger's African-American political base.

   I hope I'm wrong. But the governor has a quick and easy way to prove so: Sign the bill. "Review" just doesn't take that long.

   Mr. Stroger has hinted that he'll appeal the bill in court, but there's nothing Mr. Quinn can do about that. Sign the bill, governor.

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