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Quinn sets stage for sales tax rollback
COOK COUNTY | Gov signs measure making it easier for board to override Stroger veto

Sunday, November 08, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Gov. Quinn signed into law Saturday a measure that slices away some of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's authority and sets the stage for county commissioners to slash a controversial sales tax increase as the 2010 elections loom.

The new law, effective immediately, makes it easier for commissioners to override the board president's veto. Until Saturday, the 17-member board needed a four-fifths majority, or 14 votes, to override a veto. The new law requires only a three-fifths majority -- 11 votes.

Quinn told reporters the law is "fair" and brings Cook County government in line with the Illinois Legislature and other governing bodies across the country.

Under the old rules, Stroger on three occasions vetoed attempts by commissioners to roll back a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase -- one that pushed Chicago's overall sales tax to 10.25 percent, the nation's highest. But commissioners were unable to muster a four-fifths majority to override the vetoes.

Republican Commissioner Tony Peraica called the new law a victory for taxpayers who have fled the county to shop elsewhere and the shopkeepers who have suffered as a result. He said he'll push for a repeal of the sales tax increase at the Nov. 18 County Board meeting. But the soonest a repeal could go into effect is next July, he said.

Stroger has warned that even a partial repeal of the tax increase could put the county's finances in the red and possibly shut down hospitals and health-care clinics for the poor and uninsured.

"The governor and some members of the Legislature have no regard for the 1 million users of the health-care system," Stroger spokesman Sean Howard said Saturday.

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