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Preckwinkle drops plan for nickel-a-bullet tax

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Wednesday morning she’s scaling back her proposed violence tax.

During a morning press conference she told reporters she’s dropping her proposed nickel-a-bullet tax, but will continue to push for a $25-per gun tax.

Rumors have been swirling for days about whether Preckwinkle would pull back on the measure since she’s had trouble locking in the votes needed to pass the plan.

While Preckwinkle remained tight-lipped about whether she had the support for the measure, Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes on Tuesday told the Sun-Times point-blank: “They’re (the Preckwinkle administration) trying to figure out what to do. They don’t have the support for it.”

It’s still not clear whether she’ll be able to pull the trigger and get the nine votes she needs to back the gun tax, part of a $43 million revenue package Preckwinkle introduced to help close a gap in the county’s nearly $3 billion budget next year.

Her announcement marks the third day in a row she’s come out with some type of revision to the spending package to make it more palatable to commissioners to vote “yes.”

Indeed, she’s winding up to a final vote Friday on the revenue plan.

On Monday, she announced some changes to her “use tax” – a tax on merchandise purchased outside of Cook County but used here. The idea is to get residents and businesses in Cook County to shop locally.

The 1.25 percent tax on non-titled items – think lumber or a television – originally applied to purchases starting at $2,500. But this week, Preckwinkle said the threshold will be raised to $3,500.

Originally, the “use tax” was supposed to bring in $15 million.

On Tuesday, she announced she was revamping her proposed gambling tax. Under the original plan, she wanted an $800-a-year tax on every slot machine at Rivers Casino in suburban Des Plaines – the only casino in the county – as well as each video gaming device that pops up in suburban Cook County. But now she wants Rivers to take the biggest bite, so those machines will be taxed at $1,000 apiece annually while the video gambling machines will be $800 apiece.

Both the gambling and firearm tax is projected to bring in $1 million apiece next year.

Her proposed buck-a-pack cigarette tax has raised eyebrows, but it’s not clear whether she’s locked in the votes to win that measure. But it’s a big deal, considering she’s banking on $25.6 million in new revenues next year.



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