Cook County in Illinois approved a slew of new taxes Friday, including an extra $1 tax on each packet of cigarettes sold, a $1,000 tax per year on certain slot machines, a 1.2% tax on items costing more than $3,500 purchased outside the county, and a $25 tax on each firearm sold in suburban gun shops, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The hope is that the new taxes will chip away at the roughly $240 million budget deficit by raising roughly $40 million in new revenue, NBC Chicago adds.
The board approved the changes by a vote of 16-1, and though a number of local business owners are concerned the new taxes will push customers into neighboring counties, legislators appear pleased with their work.
“Of the three budgets we have worked on, this has been the easiest. It has come together very well in a very bipartisan spirit,” Commissioner John Fritchey told ABC Chicago.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle contributed: “This is a fiscally responsible budget that reflects the values and priorities of my administration. It makes key investments in our public health and public safety systems that will advance a regional health care model and further criminal justice reform.”
Though Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, it is also one of the most dangerous cities.
The proposal originally included a five-cent tax on each bullet, as well, but the nickel-a-bullet tax has been dropped for the time being.
For now, NBC Chicago explains how the $25 “violence tax” is being justified:
“Gun violence is a real problem for us,” she said. “It’s a problem for us in our criminal justice system and it’s a problem for us in our health care system, and I make no apologies for the proposal.”
Preckwinkle said acute care for the average shooting victim cost taxpayers $52,000 because nearly 70 percent of the victims don’t have health insurance.
The move follows a violent Chicago summer, when some weekends left multiple people killed and dozens others injured in shootings. The city’s murder rate is up 25 percent, and the Cook County Jail is near capacity with 9,000-plus inmates.
“I think it is a good thing, especially in this economy right now,” Cook County resident James Fabbrini weighed in.
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