Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today unveiled a proposed 2014 budget that, at first glance, looks to be filled with good news.
The top-line message was simple: Preckwinkle’s recommendations included a balanced $3.2 billion budget with no new taxes, fees or fines. Much of the ability to close a deficit gap of roughly $152 million came from a Medicare expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which is expected to cover a portion of the county’s costs in providing health care to the uninsured.
As well, the county is slated to save $14.4 million by more efficiently managing employee health and pharmaceutical insurance benefits. and is counting on $16.5 million in increased revenues from an improved economy.
Preckwinkle said the county has cut $430 million in expenditures in 3 years, in part due to a joint collaboration with the City of Chicago that found $70 million in savings and revenue in its second year of operation.
The county is also counting on more than $16 million in new revenues from an improved economy.
Other highlights of the budget presentation include:
- The 2014 deficit of $152 million is $335 million less than it was three years ago.
- Abolishing the 1% sales tax increase saved county residents $1.1 billion dollars.
- The budget proposes over $40 million in technology investments across the County, including faster internet access and a new computer system for tax collections.
- County Treasurer Pappas reduced her reliance on the general fund budget by nearly $2 million.
- The county plans to increase spending on public safety by $27.6 million, in part to house more minors in the Juvenile Detention Center and not in adult correctional facilities.