Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cook County Board comes through - for bloated bureaucracy

Your guides previously reported on the potential sales tax increase being contemplated by the Cook County Board. In order to fill a $283-million hole in the budget, board members voted to increase the sales tax in Cook County by 1% making the full sales tax in Chicago 10.25%.

Even staunch tax opponent, County Commissioner Larry Suffredin voted to go along with the increase. Even today, Larry Suffredin's campaign website contains the quote "At this point, I see no need for any increase in taxes. I am opposed to a sales tax because it is regressive and adversely affects the poorest members of the community."

Well said, Commissioner. Too bad you didn't mean it.

Commissioner Suffredin reported that he went along with the tax increase in return for a concession from Board President Todd Stroger. Namely, President Stroger agreed to relinquish control of the Cook County Hospital system to a newly created independent board.

The problem as I see it is that we've just agreed to the creation of another bureaucratic fiefdom completely separate from the Cook County Board. I cannot imagine a concept more diametrically opposed to the reduction and streamlining of county bureaucracy. And the new board is scheduled to automatically be dissolved in two years. At that time, the county health system will revert right back to the current board.

In his campaign materials for his run for State's Attorney, he says "As a reformer, I stood up to Todd Stroger's tax increases." Well, now we can all conclude that in reality, he is an enabler of Todd Stroger's tax increases.

Shall we recap?

  • 1/4 of 1% sales tax increase to fund the CTA Pension bailout.
  • A 40% increase in the real estate transfer tax to finish the CTA bailout.
  • A 1% increase in the sales tax to fill a hole in the county budget.
Anything else? Mayor? Governor?