Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Cook County officials to vote on repealing sugary drink tax

Cook County officials to vote on repealing sugary drink tax

The commissioners on Tuesday voted 15-1 for repeal of the tax.

Hopefully, that brings more good news for Cook County consumers.

Preckwinkle warned commissioners Thursday that they would be forced to make steep cuts across the county to make up for the lost revenue officials counted on from the tax to balance next year's $5.4 billion budget.

On Tuesday, in recognition of growing public pressure, Cook County's Board of Commissioners is expected to vote to roll back the tax, effective as soon as December 1. Within that budget is $200 million in expected revenues from the beverage tax. If the item passes at today's committee meeting, commissioners would take a second vote to accept the finance committee report at Wednesday's regular county board meeting.

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When the tax finally did go into effect on August 2, following a lawsuit by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, it was met with staunch public opposition: Consumers have organized highly visible boycotts, driven to nearby IN for groceries, and flooded their representatives with complaints.

"The choice is simple: do we want Cook County to be healthier, safer and more efficient or do we want to go backwards", Preckwinkle said in the speech, warning of layoffs in the public sector and shuttered health clinics.

County Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, who had supported the tax, said it was his responsibility to listen to the overwhelming opposition by his constituents to the tax. However, those supporting repeal say they have enough votes to override a veto. The repeal was favored by over 80% of all Cook County residents. "Now, together, we must chart a new course toward the eighth consecutive balanced budget of my tenure as board president". Pollsters asked the same question in early August, with nearly 87 percent opposing the tax then - a statistically insignificant change.

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