For the third time (let’s hope it’s a charm), the Cook County Board of Commissioners has reduced the sales tax. They voted 12-5 earlier today to scale back last year’s sales tax increase by one-half a cent.
Whereas supporters previously had only the right idea on their side, now they have the law. The Illinois General Assembly recently lowered the number of the board’s 17 commissioners needed to override a veto by the County Board president from 14 to 11.
Seeing that 12 commissioners voted to lower the sales tax today, I’m fairly confident the measure will stick this time. County Board President Todd Stroger vetoed the first two attempts to reduce the sales tax, and supporters of the measure were unable to collect the 14 votes needed to override it.
Of course, Stroger didn’t take the news well. He said he has opposed the notion of reducing the sales tax because this could impair the county’s ability to deliver health care to low-income people. An article in the Chicago Tribune, however, challenges this assertion.
“The independent board overseeing the system has proposed a 2010 budget that reduces the reliance on local county taxes by $73 million, and an analysis by the non-partisan Civic Federation concluded only $46 million of the new tax revenue went to fund health care this year,” according to the article.
Not a gracious loser, Stroger is now engaging in class warfare. He said today’s votes appeared to go along economic lines, with those representing the wealthier people voting to scale the sales tax back and those representing poorer people voting to keep the higher tax.
“This has really become a battle of the haves and the have nots, and there are more haves than have nots,” Stroger is quoted as saying in the Tribune story. “When you don’t want to fund the services, the thing that gets hit hard the most is our universal health care. It’s not just about you, it’s about all of us. If we forget that, we forget what government is all about. It’s here to help people.”
Commissioner Tony Peraica, R-16th District, of Riverside countered Stroger’s remarks by saying higher taxes hurt poor people harder than they do affluent people. But Commissioner William Beavers, D-4th District, of Chicago suggested that his constituents don’t seem to mind paying high taxes.
“My people aren’t running across town to buy something from another county,” Beavers is quoted as saying in the Tribune story.
Yes, I’m sure Beavers’ constituents are going to revolt once they realize they’ll pay less for consumer goods. You just have to marvel at some people’s logic.