Blagojevich OKs Measure to Up Sales Tax to Pay for Levee Fixes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Sales taxes could go up by a quarter of a cent in the Metro East under a measure Governor Rod Blagojevich has signed to help pay for repairs to the area's Mississippi River levees.

The measure lets the Metro East counties of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe each impose a flood-protection district that could increase the sales tax to pay for levee improvements.

Officials have estimated the repairs could cost $136 million to $180 million.

The levees protect about 156,000 people and 4,000 businesses in the river flood plain.

Critics of the measure include Kathy Andria of the American Bottom Conservancy. She says a tax increase could squeeze lower-income residents already struggling with higher food and fuel prices.

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