CHICAGO — Facing the specter of an economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle urges swift federal action to assist state and local governments who will be facing potentially extensive coronavirus-related losses of revenue in the coming months.
Preckwinkle supports a plan introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would allocate federal funding for state and local governments to help mitigate lost revenues due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a health crisis that is quickly developing into a financial crisis,” Preckwinkle said. “Declines in revenue caused by this pandemic will wreak havoc on local budgets, jeopardize essential services and impact our day-to-day lives. Without federal support, local governments across the country will be forced to consider curtailing services and making difficult cuts at a time when our residents need assistance most. I am grateful to see lawmakers taking on this issue and I hope they work swiftly to pass something meaningful that can begin to help local governments providing vital care during these challenging times.”
Preckwinkle noted that even though her administration has worked to instill sound fiscal discipline, reduce headcount, close billions of dollars of budget gaps and push for a more efficient government, an economic downturn or recession can have an adverse impact on the Cook County budget.
About 65% of Cook County revenue is considered economically sensitive with expected decreases in collections related to COVID-19. While Cook County is still analyzing data and adjusting projections, it expects economically volatile revenue sources like the sales tax, amusement tax and hotel accommodations tax to be harshly impacted.
“This is an issue of great interest and importance to budget departments across the country,” Cook County Chief Financial Officer Ammar Rizki said. “Federal funds for lost revenue can serve as an important lifeline for local governments working to craft balanced budgets while preserving essential services. We are very mindful of the serious impact a recession can have on our budget and we appreciate Congress for their shared concern.”
President Preckwinkle today also delivered letters to the Illinois United States House Delegation encouraging support on this pressing issue.