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Friday, November 30, 2007

Budget Blow-Up May Be Coming At County Board

Apparently the county board is going to meet to once again discuss the Cook County Budget so let CBS2 give you an update here...
A budget blow-up may occur on Friday when the Cook County Board reconvenes for budget talks.
...
Board President Todd Stroger wants his $3 billion budget passed on Friday. But there is still a $239 million shortfall, and the board has not agreed on Stroger's proposed tax hikes to plug what remains of that shortfall. About $1 million was cut at a nine-hour meeting Tuesday.
Now let's get to the point where Beavers cried racism at what exactly the Cook County Board cut on Wednesday...
Beavers accused the wider board of racism, too, saying they cut the budgets of two black county officials – Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Recorder Eugene Moore – while leaving white office-holders untouched.

"If you're going to cut, cut across the board," Beavers said.

When commissioners voted to make cuts to county Moore's office, cuts Moore said he supports, Beavers implied Moore wasn't smart enough to understand the cuts and Republican commissioners must have used racial intimidation to get him to agree.

Peraica says he offered an amendment to do just that, cut the budget by 2 percent across the board; it did not pass.


Now here's Stroger's proposed budget that for some reason he can't get approved by the larger board:

In his budget proposal, Stroger asked the board to pass a sales tax hike, which would raise the sales tax in the county to 11 percent – the highest of all major U.S. cities.

The plan also calls for doubling the county gasoline tax from 6 to 12 cents a gallon, and doubling the county parking tax. A monthly parker paying $30 in taxes would pay $60.

Stroger's proposed tax hikes would actually bring in more revenue than is needed to balance the budget. The sales tax increase, if enacted, would bring in $142.2 million during 2008, and $460 million a year after that.

As proposed, the budget would not increase the county's share of property taxes.

The budget eliminates 735 jobs, reduces overtime and streamlines hospital administrative services. But it also provides for more than 1,100 new positions. Stroger said the majority, 690, are in health services, and were staffing changes recommended by consultants.
It's a mess isn't it? One man clamining racism when the man who he represents on the County Board has proven himself not very able in the political realm. And certain members of the county board are at each other's throats. Yeah I'm looking at you Liz Gorman and Tony Peraica. You two seem almost as bad as Blagojevich and Madigan except at least that they keep their unbridled animosity behind closed doors, save for a sound bite or press release at times. Something's wrong!

1 comment:

The Peter Files Blog of Comedy said...

It's almost impossible, in my experience, to evaluate a government budget by looking at total numbers of positions, or percentages of positions cut, or even to look at percentages cut within departments in an organization to tell whether the public is getting a fair deal.

The fact of the matter, is that usually, across the board cuts of staff, almost always allow those who are least talented to hide in the cracks in each little group all across a political system, in dozens of little hidey holes.

Also, some parts of governmental units, like hospital and transit, have areas where any cuts, or very few cuts make sense because there are some jobs that just have to be done, year in and out no matter what - no matter whether or not there is what anyone might think is a good reason for it - like proper federal government reporting, fail to do it and the county loses the portion of the Federal Tax dollars that the county tax payers have paid into and are entitled to get back. If it sounds like a catch-22, we have to pay to have people at the county level, to get the federal dollars for counties, in proportion to the Federal Tax dollars that Cook County paid out that went to this pool, you are right. Its a catch-22.


But if we don't fund those positions that are not core mission positions we lose a lot more money to do the core work, this (federal overhead) often causes the position count to grow, calling for "Waste in Government" fanatics to go nuts, when the waste did not start here! We just often have to do more to get the same money, our money, though on rare occasions we can get more of this pot than we have gotten before, if we have the people to look for it.

As far as other across the board cutting goes, imagine cutting nurses or doctors from a hospital for example - outrageous! Oh, wait, have they done that already?

The devil is in the details. That's what makes this budget review stuff so difficult. We can't blindly listen to assurances that any way of cutting is fair unless we hear more details of the kinds of positions cut or restored.

By 2007, blind accusations of racism in the process have no place unless they are well defended by facts. So let's see them from facts within the budget request Department by Department.

I don't mean you L. I mean the original Race card caller.

Of course, just because someone incorrectly brands Government with one form of unfairness does not mean Government was not even more unfair in another way.

I just can't agree either way without the details.

Gas taxes - I don't mind paying more at the gas pump compared to some other taxes, but the extra should go into funding for public transportation so that those who use public transportation instead of drive and take use off our roads and reduce our costs thereby, get the break they deserve. They also reduce our long term medical costs because they are healthier (CDC Study around 2003 or 2004), are 10 times safer per mile traveled, National Transit Database Fact Book, (just divide deaths per miles traveled by mode. Its simple math.), and have last accidents.

It's fascinating. Every few months or so we see an article in which there is a car hits bus accident in which the car people are seriously injured and there may or may not be injuries on the bus. Yet today, riding to McDonalds, I saw a sign for a newspaper I think, that said that there were something like 362 car accidents Per Day in the area.

Yet people think that they are safer in their cars. That is truly a misperception.

Obviously(?) with the lackluster and weak-kneed support of transit in this region lately budget-wise, it is unlikely that people will be able to make nearly as many trips by CTA, Pace and Metra as they could.

Every time the public starts to grow transit ridership, out come the attempts to force transit service cuts. Its as if, as if, government officials fear the transit riding public becomes too large and too powerful for them to ignore anymore.

As if most people in the region didn't use transit at least once in the last year or so.

Didn't you?

I bring this up because the next Transit Doomsday comes up in January. All over the world gas taxes are used to provide for transit, and in many places the taxes per liter are much, much higher than suggested here.

So I say, if it helps keep Doomsday from coming, lets take that hit, and keep the road open for when I do want to drive. I would much prefer to have better transit options than I have now. And better funding for schools, the forest preserves, etc.

And that ain't funny!

An auto gas tax is certainly less regressive than a general sales tax because it penalizes those who do excessive individual car trips compared to families and those with the least money who have cars who carpool for grocery shopping and other trips. Even less regressive (ie., penalizes the poor and middle class) are real estate transfer taxes with scaled rates (higher as the sale price goes up) and mortgage transfer taxes aimed at the high end also.

These work really well on the east coast which looked at transit funding really closely when the Federal Government pulled Federal Transit Operating Funding in the Early 1990's and they worked really creatively to find solutions which kept transit going. We didn't.

Your blog is as always, thought provoking.

Peter, Chief Editor, Political Satirist and Undertaker
The Peter Files Blog of Comedy, Satire, Jokes, Commentary (this) and Videos - Brought to you today by the Letters L, B and the numbers 2 and 3

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