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December 2009 Newsletter

Reducing the Cook County Sales Tax

As many of you probably know, the Cook County Board voted last week to override President Stroger’s veto of the vote to roll back the County sales tax rate from 1.75% to 1.25%.  The rate reduction will take effect on July 1, 2010 saving taxpayers approximately $30 million in FY 2010 and $190-$200 million in FY 2011.

Last month, during the veto session, the General Assembly passed a bill to reduce the number of votes needed by the County Board to override a veto from 14 to 11 of the 17-member Board.  Last week’s vote was 12-5 in favor of the override.

I was an enthusiastic co-sponsor of the legislation that reduced the number of votes needed to override a veto and am proud to be part of something that is going to help the taxpayers of Cook County.  This action was long overdue.

Selling the Thomson Correctional Facility

At the end of November, Governor Quinn announced his intention to close and ultimately sell the Thomson Correctional Center located in Carroll County to the Federal Government.  The Federal Government would use the facility to house Guantanamo detainees pre-trial and post-conviction.

Current Illinois law requires the formal closure of Thomson before it may be offered for sale.  To close Thomson, the Department of Corrections (DOC) Director must first file written notice with The Commission of Government Forecasting & Accountability (COGFA).  COGFA is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative panel on which I serve.  In this case, COGFA is required to:  1) open a 30-day comment period for public input 2) hold a public hearing regarding the issue and 3) issue an advisory opinion regarding the recommended closure within 50 days of receiving the DOC’s recommendation.

The public hearing for the closure of the Thomson facility is set for December 22nd in Sterling, IL.  I plan to keep an open mind about the closure and am looking forward to hearing all opinions on the issue.  I would be very interested in your thoughts on what has been played out as a very controversial issue.

Finally, I want to wish you and your families a joyous holiday season and happy, healthy, and successful new year!


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