Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Markets | By Rosalie Gross

Cook County Board Overwhelmingly Votes To Repeal Soda Tax

Cook County Board Overwhelmingly Votes To Repeal Soda Tax

The debate over the pop tax has blanketed Chicago area airwaves, with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg bankrolling $5 million worth of ads touting the health benefits of reducing the amount of sugar consumed by county residents.

"Today, I voted with 15 of my colleagues on the Cook County Board of Commissioners to repeal the Soda Tax", said Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10) in a written statement.

The Philadelphia Beverage Tax, which went into effect in January, levies a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on a variety of sweet drinks, including sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, flavored water and re-sweetened coffee and teas.

Store owners, drink companies and bottlers all battled the tax. Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to repeal the widely unpopular tax, effective December 1. "Beverage taxes are really a money grab that has nothing to do with public health".

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Despite warnings from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle of steep budget cuts across the county if her pop tax was repealed, the Cook County Board Committee rejected her sweetened beverage tax 15-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 10, after a almost four-hour session. In the latest poll, about 79 percent said they would not support a commissioner for re-election should they support the tax. Preckwinkle said in a statement after Tuesday's vote that she was "disappointed". The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which unsuccessfully sued to try to stop the tax, called the repeal "great news for consumers and retailers".

"I assume those commissioners who are interested in (alternate) revenue will come forward with ideas", she said.

The tax passed past year when Board President Toni Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote after commissioners deadlocked on the measure. They have until November 30 to approve a budget.

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