Cook County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 12 to 5 to override Board President Todd Stroger's controversial veto of a half-penny sales tax rollback.
It was the board's first-ever override of a president's veto.
Despite Stroger's dire prediction that the rollback would cause "some people to die needlessly" because the tax rollback would eliminate money from county hospital budgets, the commissioners upheld their rollback.
"There's a reason why we've lost three conventions. This will show we care. For the future of taxpayers, give them relief," said Commissioner Anthony Peraica.
Two weeks ago, Stroger vetoed a half-penny sales tax rollback -- his third veto of the measure.
"My veto is the only means left to prevent a total financial disaster for this county, and is the only way to provide the resources required to operate the second-largest government of its kind in this nation," Stroger said in his remarks Tuesday.
The commissioners were able to pull off a successful veto thanks to a new law that eased the required majority constraints from four-fifths -- or 14 of 17 -- votes to three fifths or 11 of 17.
"It's my opinion that this should not happen in the middle of anyone's term -- changing the rules," Stroger said, hinting that a challenge to that change could be in the works.
The head of the Cook County Health System, William Foley, said the reduction could mean a loss of up to $200 million and could force the closure of several clinics.
"We're going to look at everything we're doing: in-patient services, out-patient services, and looking for opportunities to take those costs out of our system," he said.
Still, some aren't buying the claim.
"The scare tactics that's been used about the hospitals are going to close, that's not true," said Commissioner Earlean Collins.
The rollback goes into effect July 1, 2010 and will bring the county's portion of the sales tax down to 1.25 percent from 1.75 percent. Prior to that, however, is the election for the commissioners and the board presidency.
Chicago Tribune: How They Voted