A Better Budget?

February 15, 2007

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Cook County is one of the largest units of government in the nation. Its 3 billion dollar annual budget is larger than that of many states.

But for years, county budget talks had gone largely unnoticed thanks to powerful board presidents and acquiescent commissioners.

So when 13 commissioners came forward yesterday to offer an alternative proposal of their own, it was seen as nothing less than historic.

They signed on to an alternative budget proposal that aims to restore programs, health clinics, and hundreds of nursing and law enforcement positions eliminated by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

The commissioners propose to pay for their plan by cutting nearly 400 middle and upper management jobs– and by taking one time funds from property sales, lawsuit settlements and the Cook County Forest Preserve.

The proposal comes less than two weeks before the County Board must approve a budget and the coalition supporting the move is one vote shy of a veto proof majority.

Democratic Commissioner Mike Quigley says yesterday's development represents a major political shift for county government.