A 66-percent tax increase to Cook County’s special use gasoline and fuel tax has been proposed by Commissioner Richard Boykin. This proposed tax increase has been earmarked to fund several new, yet vaguely defined, county government programs.
Not only is the 66-percent gas tax increase questionable, but there are also questions about the new programs that appear to be expanding the size of government by duplicating programs and overlapping services that already exist.
In my view, attempting to impose a tax increase at this time would be circumventing the importance of the county’s budget process. A budget hearing is the proper forum to testify and debate the merits of a tax increase, especially one that specifically expands the size and costs of running county government.
When consolidation of services is being examined at all levels of government, I believe it is best practices to first thoroughly analyze the efficiency of all existing programs and services already provided by Cook County government.
Yes, there are very serious issues of crime and unemployment that plague certain areas of our community and yes, we must make every attempt to properly tackle those issues. But, it would be most effective to do it in a comprehensive approach, not piecemeal.
The county board has been asked to approve this tax increase along with the creation of new programs at a time when Cook County government is faced with serious fiscal challenges. We must be prudent in our allocation of tax dollars and that is why I look forward to working with my colleagues to closely analyze the effectiveness of our existing programs so that they are providing the very best services to address the needs of our constituents.
Sean M. Morrison, Cook County commissioner