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County Borrowing Plan Causes Controversy

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Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is pushing for a nearly $3-billion budget plan. But he still needs to raise an additional $700-million to pay for some day-to-day expenses.

Stroger says part of the $700 million is to cover an unforeseen problem in paying for pensions. He says that problem started before he took office in 2006.

STROGER: If we just get the bond through, this is a one-time thing and we won’t have to worry about trying to meet our obligation any more.

But Lawrence Msall has a problem with that idea. He’s with a government watchdog group called the Civic Federation.

MSALL: There is no economic expert that will tell you or no budget expert that will tell you that it’s a good idea to borrow money to pay your operating expenses.

Some commissioners also are suspicious of the borrowing plan. Tony Peraica says Stroger is trying to borrow money now, so he won’t have to raise taxes before he’s up for re-election in 2010. Stroger says, despite all the criticism, he feels good about himself and the job he’s done.

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