Did Toni Preckwinkle Ever Intend to Roll Back the Sales Tax?

Did Toni Preckwinkle ever actually intend to roll back that half-penny?

Her opponents would have you think eh, not so much.

“Did anyone seriously think that Toni, an alderman who got $200,000 from the [Service Employees International Union], is really going to roll back taxes?” said Republican nominee Roger Keats. “I don’t think she ever intended to.”

That's the same SEIU that endorsed Preckwinkle, and which represents 5,500 Cook County employees. Keats says that'll make it hard for her to cut jobs. Green Party candidate Tom Tresser agrees.

“That’s a conflict of interest, as I understand, because she would be sitting across the bargaining table from the SEIU in determining their benefits,” Tresser said.

Tresser suspects that Preckwinkle, who has been briefed on the county’s $250-$500 million budget deficit by Commissioner John Daley and former county comptroller John Chamber, is buying into the line that there’s nowhere to cut county services. County Board President Todd Stroger used that argument to justify the tax increase in the first place.

“She’s already drinking the Machine’s Kool-Aid that says the county runs a tight ship,” Tresser said. “It’s like Todd Stroger saying that people will die without this tax increase.”

The county board rolled back the first half of Stoger’s one-cent tax increase in 2009. Preckwinkle made a campaign pledge to roll back the rest of the increase by the time her first term ends in 2014. But throughout the campaign, she’s made it clear that it won’t happen right away.

“I’ve committed that I’d do that over the four years, but not when I walk in the door,” Preckwinkle told Ward Room in an interview last month.

Preckwinkle’s spokeswoman, Jessey Neves, reiterated that Preckwinkle has promised to repeal the sales tax since the beginning of the primary -- and will keep that promise. Even if it takes a few years.

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