Cook County commissioners approve 2018 budget with over 300 layoffs

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CHICAGO - The Cook County commissioners unanimously passed the 2018 budget Tuesday, cutting $200 million and over 300 jobs in the process.

It wasn't what Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle wanted, but after the commissioners abandoned the pop tax, tough choices remained to fill a $200 million budget hole.

"It’s heartbreaking," Preckwinkle said.

Over 1,000 unfilled jobs won’t be filled and 321 county employees, mostly in the offices of the Sheriff and Chief Judge, will be cut. The commissioners say there are too many mid-level managers and support staff in those offices.

"The people asked us to live within our means, and this is what this budget is doing," said Cook County Commissioner John Daley.

The last day for non-union workers will be Dec. 8., and the last day for union workers is Jan. 5, 2018.

"When we repealed the sugary beverage tax, we knew we would be in a crisis," said commissioner Chuy Garcia.

Last-minute wheeling and dealing resulted in some jobs being saved, but county workers who weren't so lucky spoke out before the vote.

"I haven’t slept in days because I found out I’m losing my job after 19 and a half years," Amy Carioscia said.

"Please find some other resources because this would be so damaging to not just me but all of my brothers and sisters in juvenile probation, ASCME, and everywhere else in the county," Eboni McLemore said.

Although the commissioners say the cuts are necessary, they did acknowledge the pain of the pink slips going out during the holidays.

"If we were a private industry the politicians would be screaming, 'how could you be that insensitive to be laying people off at Christmas?'" said Commissioner Larry Sufferdin. "Because we’re a government, the other politicians aren’t going to yell at us, but they people should be wondering what kind of government we are when we’re laying off his many people at this time of year."

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