300 Cook County employees laid off amid budget crisis

COOK COUNTY, Ill. — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Friday that the county has laid off over 300 employees amid the county’s budget crisis.

Preckwinkle said the numbers will continue to change as the Human Resources Department works on the issue with different departments.

Preckwinkle tried to close a $68 million budget gap with a tax on sweetened beverages. But the tax faced a lawsuit that prohibits the county from collecting the money.

On Thursday, Preckwinkle said that she would have to cut about 1,100 jobs . According to Preckwinkle’s office, without the  tax, the county will lose $67.5 million for fiscal year 2017 and $200.6 million next year.

Preckwinkle said the only responsible thing to do was make 10 percent across the board cuts.

Along with the layoffs, we are closing more than 600 vacant positions, Preckwinkle said in a press release.

“I regret that these actions are necessary – and I deeply regret the impact they have on individual employees,” the press release said. “One of the main reasons I proposed the modest tax on sweetened beverages last year was specifically to avoid these kind of cuts.”

The number includes 17 prosecutors and 22 staffers at the State’s Attorney’s Office.