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Stroger capitulates on raises for state’s attorneys

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

After days of protests from vocal state’s attorneys, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger relented Monday and announced a plan to give them cost-of-living increases retroactive to 2004.
Stroger said the public pressure had nothing to do with the change of heart, and he had agreed to the raises only because the county recently received $21 million from a legal settlement.
That settlement was received July 10 — long before Stroger had told Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Devine he intended not to give state’s attorneys a pay increase that had been promised back in February when the budget was passed.
Whatever the reason, Devine seemed glad to bury the hatchet now that his employees were getting paid.
“We’ve come a long way in the last few weeks, and I want to very sincerely and deeply thank the president and his staff,” said Devine. “The prosecutors will receive full parity with the public defenders.”
Under the deal, state’s attorneys — many of whom received a 7 percent boost earlier this year to bring certain job classifications in line with the base pay of their counterparts in the public defender’s office — will receive another 8 percent to recover the cost-of-living raises they have gone without.
Also as part of the deal, other non-union county employees will get a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for 2007 retroactive to June 1. Unlike the state’s attorneys, however, they will not get cost-of-living adjustments for the years from 2004 through 2006, but they will get a $1,000 bonus instead.
Both state’s attorneys and other non-union employees will get a 4.75 percent cost-of-living adjustment next year, said Cook County Commissioners Larry Suffredin, an Evanston Democrat, and Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, who worked to broker the deal.
If the deal is to be enacted, the full county board must sign off on it today at its board meeting.
Some may balk at the price tag. It’s estimated the increases, combined with union employee’s raises, will be an extra $113 million to the county’s $3 billion budget. That could mean a tax increase.
“If we don’t have some kind of (revenue) increase, we would have to cut services severely,” Stroger said.
Stroger appears to be committed to looking for those new revenues not from homeowners but from other taxes, perhaps. While he has pledged not to raise taxes for homeowners, he has not made such a vow with other types of taxes.

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