Cook County Commissioners Sour on Sugary Drinks Tax

Cook County Commissioners Sour on Sugary Drinks Tax

The Cook County Board's finance committee has voted to repeal a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks that has riled many Chicago-area residents. The county board's president, Toni Preckwinkle, had vigorously defended the penny-per-ounce tax, which had been forecast to raise $200 million annually, on both public-health and fiscal grounds, backed by an advertising push from Michael Bloomberg, the former NY mayor.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners took the final step to repeal the sweetened beverage tax, approving an ordinance October 11 that puts the wildly unpopular revenue program on ice after just two months of collections.

County Board Commissioner Richard Boykin, who has led the charge against the tax, has proposed cutting spending and eliminating vacant positions to make up for the revenue generated by the tax, which added 68 cents to the price of a 2-liter bottle and 72 cents to the cost of a six-pack.

"But it is also a stark reminder that public health benefits alone are not enough to enact and sustain a new sweetened beverage tax", the coalition said in a statement. Under the ordinance, the tax would remain in effect until the start of the new county fiscal year on December 1.

The vote to repeal was a huge disappointment to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who defended the revenue program for more than a year. Sugar-drink taxes have been successfully implemented in seven jurisdictions across the United States in the last four years.

Grace, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 830, called on Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council to repeal the city's own sweetened beverage tax.

As for how she misread pop tax opposition so badly, she said, "We're in a very hard time in this country politically".

The tax also applies to hundreds of premade sweetened beverages besides pop. Krieger further criticized efforts by "Big Soda" to oppose the tax.