On July 25, 2018, the Cook County Board’s finance committee will be discussing a proposal to create a revenue forecasting commission. Whether you are handling thousands or billions of dollars, a key component of budgeting is correctly predicting the amount of revenue that will be coming in over the next year and well into the future. For governmental bodies, revenue forecasting is not just a bureaucratic technicality, it is a critical and politically charged activity. For example, when a new tax is proposed supporters may predict it has a far larger effect on future revenue than opponents, who will want to argue that the tax creates more pain than benefit. Cook County saw such a heated debate play out in 2016 and 2017, when a tax on soda and sugary drinks was approved by the board and later reversed.
On July 19, 2018, the Better Government Association’s Policy team wrote to Cook County Board commissioners to support the creation of a Consensus ￼Revenue Forecasting Commission for Cook County. Ordinance 18-2073, which establishes the commission, is a novel approach to address potential biases in local government budgeting. Such a commission might help temper political discourse around controversial revenue proposals.
Letters along with a summary of a model commission in King County, WA, were sent to all 17 commissioners of the Cook County Board. Below is the text of the policy team’s letter.