The county is being represented by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, but the immediate problem of what to do if the funds disappear—$250 million a year is a bit more than what the county’s defunct tax on sweetened beverages would have garnered—will have to be resolved by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
“It is the county’s position that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring forward this litigation; further, that the county’s allocation of revenue is proper under the Illinois Constitution, the constitutional amendment’s legislative history and the ballot summary provided to voters,” said Preckwinkle's spokesman.
“It’s up to the county to properly allocate their resources,” Sturino told me in an interview. “It’s up to the county to ensure they’re in total compliance with the constitution.”
One county commissioner, Evanston Democrat Larry Suffredin, said he’s not especially concerned about the suit, but he conceded it’s breaking new ground. “This is the first step to review the amendment and for the courts to decide what it means,” he said.
The action could be awkward for some civic groups that supported the lockbox amendment, arguing it would give voters more willingness to support tax hikes if they were guaranteed the money would go for transportation and not be siphoned off for other uses.