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Stroger Gets His Budget, County Health System Goes Independent

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 3, 2008 4:40PM

Late Friday, Todd Stroger and nine other county commissioners worked to close the Cook County budget for 2008. The compromise deal doubled the county parking taxes and raised the sales tax to 1.75 percent - making Chicago one of the highest taxed cities in the nation. Those tax hikes, coupled with an agreement to cede control of the county Health Services Bureau to an independent oversight panel yielded the elusive ninth vote that Stroger had been seeking to pass his budget. Larry Suffredin, who brokered the health services deal, was the swing vote.

The changes to the county health system were overwhelmingly supported by the board and call for 14 officials from the medical, civic and labor community to pick 20 nominees to a hospital governing board. Stroger will choose nine, with the county board making the final approval. The proposal to move Cook County's health care system over to an independent oversight board came last fall after a blue-ribbon committee of business and health care executives, appointed by Stroger at the urging of US Senator Dick Durbin, recommended the move.


The tax hike will generate enough revenue for the county that Stroger will not have to come back and ask for another increase next year, and possibly the year after. It will also give him the funds to hire nearly 25,000 new county workers. "By passing this budget, the board has breathed life into this county government," Stroger told the Tribune.

Image via JOE M500