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Cook County facing big budget deficit

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says the county is in deep financial trouble. She said the county is running a major deficit not just through this year, but also into the next fiscal year. Preckwinkle said the county is coming up short $116 million this fiscal year and $315 million for 2012.

She said there are plenty of reasons for the shortfall, including a campaign promise to cut the sales tax. But she said the vast majority of the deficit comes from costs related to health care and a delay in the collection of patient fees.

"We're going to do everything we can. In my view, layoffs are the last resort," Preckwinkle told reporters Thursday.

Preckwinkle ordered all county departments to immediately reduce spending by five percent. She defended the use of furlough days and said she's asking labor leaders and other countywide elected officials to come up with budget saving tips. She also wouldn't rule out privatizing county assets.

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