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Cook County Sales Tax Hike Stays As Override Of Stroger's Veto Fails, New Repeal Passed

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Cook County's unpopular 1 percentage point sales tax increase is sticking around, at least for now.

County commissioners did not muster enough votes Tuesday to override President Todd Stroger's veto of a measure to rollback the tax. That leaves the sales tax in Chicago at 10.25 percent.

Fourteen of the 17 commissioners needed to back a veto override for it to be successful, but in the end only 11 supported it.

Commissioner Joseph Moreno voted to sustain Stroger's veto after initially voting for the tax repeal earlier this month.

"I made a mistake by going along, by being swallowed up with the whirlpool effect, the momentum on the vote," said Moreno, a Democrat.

But vanquished commissioners quickly passed a new measure to repeal the tax increase, setting up another confrontation with Stroger who pushed for it last year. Still, the 10-7 vote on the new measure is shy of the 14 commissioners needed to override any veto.

"This is not going to go away, people are angry, rightfully so. They see higher taxes paying for scandal and abuse in this government. They're suffering in this economy and they want a repeal," said Commissioner Forrest Claypool, a vocal critic of Stroger, a fellow Democrat.

The repeal measures pushed by commissioners continue to be larger than the smaller sales tax rollback Stroger has said he could back.

Stroger accused commissioners who want to rollback the entire 1 percentage point increase of not finding ways to replace the money, lost revenue that Stroger said would create a $245 million budget deficit and force reductions in the county's health care system for the poor.

"If it's a battle between the have and have-nots, so be it. We are supposed to help people. That's our role," Stroger said.

Some commissioners accused Stroger of using scare tactics to maintain support for the tax increase by warning of deep cuts.

The county should rollback the tax to streamline a government famously known for its bloat, said Republican Commissioner Peter Silvestri.

"When the rest of the country and the rest of the world is suffering from these economic pinches that we're all in - pinches, I would call them slaps - we have to do our part to try to relieve our taxpayers of this burden," he said.


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