Monday, June 22, 2015

EXTRA: Cook County may resume its spot back on top (of the sales tax heap)

A part of me is wondering right about now who’s laughing the loudest – Todd Stroger or William Beavers.

PRECKWINKLE: Now, she wants the tax hike
Both of them surely are saying “told you so” at the thought that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle let it be known Monday that she’s now pushing for an increase in the county’s share of the sales tax.

CURRENTLY, THE COUNTY charges 0.75 percent of the purchase price as a sales tax. Which when combined with all the other government entities in Cook County and Illinois makes the total sales tax some 9.25 percent.

Preckwinkle says she wants to add another 1 percent to the county’s share, which would bring the total sales tax to 10.25 percent – which would be one of the highest rates anywhere in the nation.

It’s ironic that the county board president is now pushing this issue, because she was the one who during her last term in office went out of her way to repeal a 1 percent sales tax hike that former county board President Stroger imposed.

And which was the primary reason why so many people ganged up on his campaign for re-election in 2010 that he came in fourth in a four-candidate field during the Democratic primary that year.

OF COURSE, SOME people were really upset that Stroger was the son of John Stroger, and they didn’t like the way the elder Stroger orchestrated his succession for his son to the top county board post when his health became so inclement that he had to step down.

Talk of the tax hike was really just their cover.

BEAVERS: How snarky would he be?
Preckwinkle made a priority of gradually knocking down the sales tax hike that Stroger enacted because the tax revenue was needed by county government to fulfill its financial obligations.

Now, she wants that money back. The real question is, Will the bulk of the Cook County Board be just as hard-headed in their opposition to the issue as they were back in the days of Stroger?

OR WILL THE fact that Preckwinkle has much more professional respect in her post than Stroger ever had when he served result in them being willing to accept the need for a revenue increase?

It won’t be just Stroger who thinks “told you so.” Because I can remember so many occasions in which the outspoken Bill Beavers denounced his critics for their tax opposition – always seeing it as a personal slight against Stroger rather than a serious critique about government revenues.

STROGER: Will his tax hike become real?
So many that I honestly lost count, and eventually quit noting them back in the days when I wrote about Cook County government. It got to the point where Stroger NOT criticizing his colleagues was more rare and newsworthy than when he did.

Why would Preckwinkle be willing to move now to repeal something that she previously fought against? Perhaps it is because that with all the different units of government facing financial problems, Preckwinkle wants to stake her claim to an increased share of the sales tax before anybody else can.

OR MAYBE SHE’S just more willing to accept such an increase if she winds up getting the credit for fixing the county’s financial problems.

Although I’m sure the people who are eager to back Gov. Bruce Rauner in his efforts to alter the state’s financial situation will be amongst the most outspoken critics of Preckwinkle for what she is talking about doing now.

I’m also sure it will further bolster the arguments of those people who live near the county’s borders – because they’re going to argue it further makes it cheaper to shop elsewhere. Will County, or perhaps across the state line in Hammond?

Then again, I think anybody who’s willing to go out of their way to waste gasoline so they can save a few cents when they buy gas isn’t going to care about any line of logic that tries to justify the need for additional sales tax revenue.


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