Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez warned Tuesday that the staffing and budget cuts she's being pushed to make will have serious consequences on public safety.
"A 10 percent reduction for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office cuts deeply -- deeply -- into vital services that the people of this county cannot do without," she told Cook County Commissioners during an afternoon budget hearing.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle had ordered a 16 percent cut from nearly every department in the county, including Alvarez's office, but later agreed to accept 10 percent after Alvarez pushed back.
Now Alvarez is saying that 10 percent is even too much.
"[The number of assistants will] have to go down in our juvenile justice bureau. There'll be less assistants in those courtrooms, so I think you're going to see, particularly on the abuse and neglect side -- those are children who have already been abused and neglected -- and now their cases are going to take longer to handle if I have to reduce the number of assistants that I have in those courtrooms, so there's a direct hit to public safety here [and] a direct hit to the services that we provide each and every day."
Alvarez said about 150 employees, including dozens of prosecutors, will be cut.
A perturbed Preckwinkle met with reporters outside the board chambers and said that she'd advised to Alvarez last week ways she could cut her administrative budget without impacting the number of lawyers the county employs.
"As I said from the very beginning, no one is absolved, no one is alone, and the one person who is making the least amount of cuts is reneging on the deal," said Preckwinkle.
She has told department heads that she'll make the budget cuts if they don't make them first.