Need any more evidence that
the 1 percentage point sales tax increase pushed through last year by
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is hurting suburban businesses?
A new study released last week showed sales declined
14.4 percent in suburban Cook County for the second quarter of the year
compared with the same quarter a year ago. That's a bigger decline than
all the collar counties and a bigger decline than Chicago experienced.
The three counties with the lowest sales tax - Kane, McHenry and Will-
also had the lowest declines.
At a minimum of 9 percent, Cook County has the highest sales tax in the region, with many towns adding even more on top of that.
To further highlight the discrepancies, suburbs that
are split between Cook and other counties or on the border with
counties are seeing large declines: 34.3 percent in the Cook portion of
Barrington Hills, 17.8 percent in Elk Grove Village, 17.3 percent in
Schaumburg and 16.4 percent in Hoffman Estates.
Meanwhile, Stroger has proposed a budget that is 4.5
percent more than last year, a budget that has been criticized by a
government watchdog group.
"We don't see any evidence of restraint. This budget is
significantly larger than last year," said Civic Federation President
Laurence Msall. He added that the sales tax increase is "having a
dramatically negative impact on the economy."
Taxes are up and spending is up right along with it.
And Stroger, who is seeking re-election, says he's spending taxpayer's
money wisely. "The county's in great shape," he blithely said last week.
Yet he has ignored all the county residents who are fleeing to spend their money elsewhere.
The county board voted to repeal the tax increase but
Stroger vetoed their efforts. They twice tried to override the veto but
couldn't get the required 14 of 17 votes - a ridiculous fourth-fifths
On Saturday, Gov. Pat Quinn wisely signed legislation that will give that override a chance to pass.
The bill, passed by the legislature, lowers the
requirement to three-fifths or 11 of 17 votes to override a veto. This
legislation did not repeal the tax itself. Signing it simply gives the
county board a reasonable chance at overturning wrongheaded decisions
by the county board president.
We praise the move by the General Assembly and the governor to correct this flaw.
Yet we also take note of the way Quinn, the candidate,
skirted a significant problem. In his news release, Quinn failed to
directly call out Stroger, a fellow Democrat with a large group of
Quinn's career was built on the theory that government
should be more responsive to its citizens. This was an opportunity for
the governor to make a bold statement about the hated tax that put Cook
County among the highest in the nation. Instead, he simply said, "We
must have fair rules for everyone."
Forgive us if we seem underwhelmed.