Chicagoland Chamber's Elise Houren testifies at public hearing on Cook County's proposed 2016 budget

In early November, Cook County, Illinois's government convened a public hearing on County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's proposed 2016 county budget.

Among those who testified at the hearing was Elise M. Houren, director of government relations for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

"The Chicagoland Chamber commends President Preckwinkle for her leadership and recognizes her efforts to craft a responsible FY2016 budget that is efficient and responsive to the citizens of Cook County, while creating a permanent, sustainable finance plan for the future," Houren said. "However, the chamber opposes the proposal to expand the amusement tax, which applies to cable TV and recreational activities such as bowling, golf and many for-profit sports leagues."

Preckwinkle's proposed expansion of the amusement tax came on the heels of the passage of a $434 million sales tax increase.

"The chamber believes President Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board can find an alternative to requiring citizens to pay another $20.25 million in taxes," Houren said. "The chamber believes the sales tax increase discussion should have been a part of the regular budget process for a reason: To avoid asking taxpayers for more money a second time. That is why the chamber remains opposed to using any additional tax to plug the county’s budget hole.“

Houren said the chamber's opinion was that the expanded amusement tax would decrease the accessibility of entertainment options for Cook County's low-income families and senior citizens.

“This proposed expansion will be yet another tax increase that will impact the business community and all those who utilize cable TV as a reliable, easy, and affordable form of entertainment,” she added. "The Chicagoland Chamber stands ready to be a responsible partner in moving the county forward, but remains opposed to the expansion of the amusement tax or any additional tax increase."

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