CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Board will vote Tuesday on $200 million in budget cuts, triggered by the demise of the sweetened beverage tax.
Chief Judge Tim Evans, however, is still angling to reduce the blow to the court system, saying the planned layoffs pose a risk to the poor and public at large.
“It is a debacle because it’s unfair and it’s going to hurt people who desperately need help,” he said. “They’re protecting the disabled from those who would hurt them and take advantage of them, they’re protecting elderly people who have thousands of dollars at risk here, they’re protecting children in abuse and neglect.”
Evans was referring to cuts to the County Public Guardian’s Office, which protects juveniles and the disabled. Overall, Cook County’s layoffs are slated as follows:
- Court system – 180
- Sheriff’f office – 181
- Hospital system – 34
- Preckwinkle’s office – 15
Evans’ complaint, bolstered by ministers, who also fear the cuts aren’t balanced.
“We’re appealing to all the commissioners, as they look at a magic bullet, if you will, just make sure you don’t shoot the wrong person,” said Bishop Tavis Grant.
But President Toni Preckwinkle insisted there’s no choice, saying, “We made it quite clear to them that those were going to be significant cuts, and they have been.”
Still, Larry Suffredin, Cook County Board Commissioner, cautioned the layoffs aren’t final just yet. “I’m optimistic that we will have significant reductions in those numbers for both the sheriff and the chief judge by the time we vote tomorrow morning.”
And those last-minute talks have borne fruit. Early Monday evening, Preckwinkle announced 22 positions in the Public Guardian’s Office — attorneys who defended the defenseless — have been saved and restored to the budget.