Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cook County's obscene and disgusting tax rate

It is a strategic mistake to walk willingly into a policy debate with a master debater, political genius, American University alumnus, Democratic policy wonk, and former senior class president like, say, Matt DeLeon. However, I felt Matt’s comment about my intent to shop out of state deserved more than a one-line clever comeback.

Matt's comment:
Can't have reform without revenue. Just ask the new Health Board, which submitted a budget that is $40 million more than last year's.

And be honest--what other taxes have been raised by Cook County other than the sales tax?

And when was the last time the sales tax was raised?

How about never, since its inception--in 1992.

When was the last time your Cook County share of property taxes was raised? Try 1996.

Maybe it isn't Stroger?

Better hurry on that out of state shopping--other governments are raising their sales tax now, as well.

I can't disagree with you more on tax policy. I feel like “Toddler” Stroger rammed through his tax increase just to hire more of his friends and relatives to numerous high-paying jobs under his control. What else would he do with an extra $192 mil (in the black)? Oh, hire another 1000 workers. I read a whole list of tax-free revenue adjustments in a Tribune editorial of which Stroger could have taken advantage to avoid a tax increase, suggested by a Cook County Board member. Sales taxes are regressive and hurt low-income families more than anyone else. Why are sales taxes here the highest in the country, Matt? Do we deserve that? The rate increased 133 percent, from 0.75 to 1.25 percent. That’s excessive, egregious and outrageous—and smaller than what Toddler wanted! Okay, so it had been at the same rate for 15 years, but my tax philosophy is different from yours: I don’t think it should ever be raised. In fact, I’d like to see a tax cut, thank you very much. Toddler is going to lie low about tax increases until his 2010 reelection, and then he’ll announce another tax hike, to 1.75 or 2 percent. No, I really think it is Stroger and his yes-men underlings. I was horrified by his 2006 election that convinced me more than ever the voters here absolutely love big government and higher taxes. (Not to mention nepotism and replacing one taxaholic—John—for another.) Are the schools any better? Is Stroger Hospital any better? In Chicago, Cook County and Illinois, I think taxes pay for more greed, corruption and stop signs.

I believe the Cook County entertainment tax (on movies, sports events, concerts and even non-profit theatre productions) is currently three percent, and yes, that was a recent increase.

Hamilton County in southwestern Ohio has a tax rate of 6.5 percent (including Ohio sales tax). Even if the City of Cincinnati tacks on an extra one percent (not sure about that), it’s a bargain for Chicagoans accustomed to paying 10.25 percent, plus a one percent penalty for eating out, plus a 0.25 percent penalty for eating out downtown, plus more for alcohol, plus more for soft drinks, plus 8 percent (city) and 3 percent (county) for entertainment tickets, etc., etc.

1 comment:

sutra42 said...

Funny you bring up the proposals in the Trib.

NONE of those proposals were ever offered by any commissioner for a vote.

There is no "extra" tax revenue--because the tax was passed in February, the earliest it could be collected was July. The earliest the County would receive tax revenue was October. The County's fiscal year ends in November.

So... Read More for 2008 there are only two months of increased revenue. The rest of the budget was balanced by cuts (never heard that in the Trib, though).

Where are the "extra workers" coming from? The majority of the workers we are hiring are either court-mandated for the jail or the JTDC, and for the County Health System. In fact, the new governing board for the hospital--not the President--is proposing 400 MORE workers in the 2009 budget.

If Stroger is larding the payroll with last year's hires, what to do now that the independent health experts say the health system is still 400 positions short of fully functioning?

Maybe he actually was responding to the needs of the system? No! Impossible! It's Todd Stroger!

BTW, that budget just passed the County Board 16-1.

The increase in the entertainment tax was in the 2006 budget. Not under Todd Stroger.

Oh, and Hamilton County, OH? Cincinnati residents pay city income tax. In addition to a sales tax.

The bottom line is--so long as residents indicated they want these services, there has to be the revenue to pay for them.