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No new taxes or fees in Preckwinkle’s new Cook County budget

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CHICAGO — Cook County taxpayers will be spared any tax hikes or fee increases under a new $6.2 billion budget to be unveiled Thursday.

Most of the money would go towards the county’s health and hospital system and cover costs for lower income, uninsured, and underinsured people.

$1.3 billion will go to public safety.

The county still plans to break ground on the new Provident Hospital in 2020.

According to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the county faces its smallest deficit since she took office, nine years ago.

The deficit can be closed, in part, by eliminating 600 vacant healthcare jobs. Preckwinkle's staff said patient care will not be compromised by the job cuts.

Preckwinkle is adding 265 positions, with many new jobs in State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Chief Judge Timothy Evans' office. The additional staff will help with processing expungements, pretrial services and address problems of gun violence.

"The budget reflects our values," said Preckwinkle. "It's more than numbers, dollar signs, and decimals. Wielded properly, it's a tool to for providing care, nourishing neighborhoods, fostering economic development, and creating opportunities."

Preckwinkle admits, however, the deficit will be higher next year, and even higher the following years.

Preckwinkle’s office is also set to unveil an interactive budget website.

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