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Cook County Board approves $6.2 billion budget for 2020, without increases in taxes or fees

Thursday, November 21, 2019
Chicago Tribune
by Lolly Bowean

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle presents her 2019 budget to the board on Oct. 10, 2019.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle presents her 2019 budget to the board on Oct. 10, 2019. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

With only one sole voice of opposition, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved President Toni Preckwinkle’s $6.2 billion 2020 spending plan on Thursday afternoon.

In a special meeting that lasted less than 15 minutes, the budget soared through, in part, because it included no tax or fee increases that would be passed on to residents.

“This budget is a great budget,” Commissioner John P. Daley, 11th, told the board before it voted. He emphasized that this budget is one that won’t directly impact residents’ pocketbooks and that the governing body should be proud of it.

Preckwinkle inherited a $487 million budget deficit when she took office, a hole that was reduced to less than $20 million next year.

PAID POST

Among other things, the budget invests money in reforming Cook County’s criminal justice system by spreading a chunk of more than 260 new full-time jobs between the offices of State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the clerk of the Circuit Court and Chief Judge Timothy Evans, so that there are people to process expungements, offer pretrial services and do the work of keeping poor defendants out of jail.

Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have differed over how to reform the criminal bond system and the best way to tackle gun violence.

Besides the new jobs and health care centers, the budget would pay more money into pensions, cover charity hospital care‚ offer grants to agencies that give job training and provide social services to teenagers. The plan also calls for redesigning the Cook County Jail campus.

But while most of the commissioners on Thursday expressed gratefulness and praised the good news budget, Commissioner Sean M. Morrison, 17th, said the spending plan has allowed the county to grow too quickly while not really addressing aggressively enough a looming pension crisis.

“This rate of growth and spending is not sustainable,” he said about the county’s budget plan. “It’s not fair to taxpayers.”

Twitter @lollybowean



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