Why I voted “Yes” on the 2017 Cook County Budget
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Special to suffredin.org
This is the 14th Cook County budget that I have worked to amend in order to meet the needs of Cook County residents for efficient services. I have voted in favor of the first 11 budgets that met those needs. I have voted against the last 2 that did not meet those needs.
I voted “Yes” on the 2017 Cook County budget. This budget meets the needs of Cook County residents by:
a.Streamlining our work force. In the last 5 years Cook County has reduced the number of full time jobs by over 6000 positions. This budget reduces the number of full time jobs by another 300 positions;
b.Stabilizing our Cook County Health and Hospital System staffing to meet changing patient needs through better planning by the Independent Board and better use of Public Health resources including Access to Care;
c.Increasing the utilization of Cook County Care dollars to reduce the dependency of the Cook County Health and Hospital System on taxpayer support. In the last 5 years taxpayer support has been reduced from $400 million to $111 million this year.
d.Providing adequate resources to run the Circuit Court of Cook County, the largest court system in the nation, through pretrial services, probation services, court interpreters, mortgage foreclosure remedies, and educational programs;
e.Giving our County Lawyers in the State’s Attorney Office, the Public Defender’s Office and the Public Guardian’s Office the full range of modern resources to properly do their job;
f.Continuing to provide for the County’s pension obligations;
g.Updating technology for use by our property tax agencies need to fairly and properly do their work;
h.Working to reduce the population of our jail by nearly 2000 people per week while still protecting our community from the worst criminals;
i.Providing better services for the children at a newly revised Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and Juvenile Court; and
j.Providing for the consolidation of the Recorder of Deeds Office and the County Clerk’s Office. This effort will cause $1 million in taxpayer savings.
Over the last two years I have complained about the lack of planning and coordination between the budgets and the real needs of the County. This budget does that planning and coordination.
This budget does contain the new “Sweetened Beverage Tax”, which is not a tax on all citizens but on the limited number of citizens who drink these beverages. This tax has a twofold purpose, first it will help us fight heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis; and second it provides enough revenue to balance the budget without gimmicks.
Finally, this budget comes with the passage of both a binding resolution and ordinance that prohibits the raising of any taxes by the County until after 2020. This action covers property taxes, sales taxes, any home rule excise taxes and will lead to a further streamlining of County Government.