Cook County sales tax hike should be 'very last resort,' GOP leader says

  • Tim Schneider

    Tim Schneider

 
 
Updated 6/25/2015 12:31 PM

Tim Schneider of Bartlett, Illinois Republican Party chairman and a Cook County commissioner, says his opposition to a Cook County sales tax hike isn't meant to set an example for other members of his party.

He's just against it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Cook County tax proposal comes as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic legislative majority could clash in Springfield over an income tax increase. Rauner says he's willing to discuss new state taxes if lawmakers first approve part of his agenda, including a property tax freeze.

Schneider said his opposition to a Cook County increase isn't meant to set a broader tone.

"I'm not looking to set any type of example," Schneider said. "I'm just looking to represent the people of my district the best way I can, and I think this tax is regressive."

He voted against former Cook County President Todd Stroger's sales tax hike, too.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle proposes a penny-per-dollar sales tax increase to help pay for county worker pensions.

In the spring, Schneider tried to get ahead of things and get the board to oppose a property tax hike in the next county budget. That idea wasn't voted on.

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"I believe that we should look to taxes and to taxpayers as a very last resort," he said.

Sticking together

Wednesday's the start of a new budget year in Illinois, but there's no new budget. That leaves the fate of some state services in limbo as a staredown between Rauner and the legislature continues.

A government shutdown can be hard on lawmakers of both parties as their constituents start asking -- more and more loudly over time -- for some action. Schneider said Republicans have stuck behind Rauner.

"I believe that everyone is steadfast behind the governor, yes," he said.

Blame game

As a shutdown looms, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan repeated his contention that Rauner is being "extreme" and said voters will take it out on Rauner and the Republicans in the 2016 election.

"The people of the state will have two years to see a Republican governor functioning in the extreme, not in moderation," said Madigan, chairman of the state Democratic Party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Schneider disagreed, saying Democrats ultimately are responsible for Springfield's troubles and voters sent Rauner as a change agent.

"I think in some ways the Democrats are afraid of successful Republicans and some of the policies and practices we might implement because that would encourage people to vote for Republicans in 2016," Schneider said. "So I think that's part of the reason we have an impasse here."

He wanted to make clear he wasn't speaking for Rauner, just himself.

"The governor doesn't care where he gets the votes. And he doesn't care who's elected," Schneider said. "As long as the people who are elected, Republican or Democrat, vote for pro-business, pro-growth policies."

Can you hear me now?

People interested in today's big health care decision from the U.S. Supreme Court were confined to clicking "refresh" online until media could read, interpret and report on what happened.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield and Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago were part of a group that sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts arguing that the court should allow live audio to be played from the courtroom where decisions are read.

"Allowing live audio coverage will give more Americans the ability to closely follow the proceedings as they occur," Quigley said.

It didn't happen Thursday. The court could decide a big same-sex marriage case in the coming days.

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