A Letter from President Toni Preckwinkle
To the Residents of Cook County:
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is one of the most impactful pieces of federal legislation passed since the New Deal in the 1930s.
This federal funding allocated over $1 billion to Cook County, which will help us recover from the pandemic and continue building a sustainable, affordable, and equitable future for our residents.
The past decade of passing balanced budgets for Cook County has not been easy. We have had to make some difficult decisions--budget cuts, layoffs, and paring back nonessential services--to be good fiscal stewards. Local governments across the country have struggled with the same problem: declining revenues and rising costs, which have led to austerity budgets that can't meet the rising needs of our residents and do not allow government to fulfill its role.
Alongside this challenge, the divide of wealth inequality has only deepened in America. Housing, healthcare, and transportation have become less affordable in every major city. While I am proud of the work Cook County has done to increase access to affordable healthcare, housing, and public transportation, in reality, we needed a radical infusion of money to build a better infrastructure for these rising needs--and President Biden delivered with the American Rescue Plan Act.
This pandemic laid bare the inequities that pervade our society. People of color, working families, single mothers, immigrants, and people with disabilities suffered the worst of this crisis. They struggled to pay their rent, keep their shop doors open, find childcare, and stay healthy.
Cook County strives to center equity as we serve residents, as laid out in our 2018 strategic plan, the Cook County Policy Roadmap. We adhere to the values of equity, engagement, and excellence, and we have taken that approach to our immediate response and long-term recovery efforts. Racial equity shapes our response to this pandemic, and our holistic approach to providing services into the future.
With racial equity at the center, our values are reflected in our immediate projects and transformative initiatives. Because of the hard work we've done over the past decade, Cook County is able to invest the vast majority of the $1 billion directly into community programs to help our residents, businesses, and local governments thrive.
All of our projects were designed with feedback and guidance from tens of thousands of residents, community partners,, suburban municipalities, and policy experts. Please continue to stay engaged by following our work here on our ARPA website. We look forward to building a better and stronger Cook County together.
Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President