Cook County officials to vote on repealing sugary drink tax

Chicago Rethinks Soda Tax

Chicago Rethinks Soda Tax

If the tax is repealed today, there would be no soda tax after December 1.

It's a major victory for Big Soda, which has spent millions on ad buys, lobbyists, and political contributions in the county.

In an October 5 budget address, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, the most stalwart defender of the soda tax, argued that county services - including hospitals, clinics, and community intervention programs - would suffer without the tax.

Preckwinkle included the projected $200 million in revenue that the tax was expected to generate next year in the new $5.4 billion budget for 2018. Almost 77 percent of those polled said they believed the tax was in order to raise money, with 11.71 percent saying it was meant to "improve health". 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.

"Consumer outrage is off the charts, " said David Goldenberg, a spokesman for the industry-funded Can the Tax Coalition.

However, on October 5, Cook County Commissioner John Daley, who represents this community, said he would vote to repeal the tax, giving tax opponents the needed nine votes.

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. The repeal was favored by over 80% of all Cook County residents. As I outlined last week, it is up to the commissioners to choose our direction on revenue, and I respect their authority to do so.

Following several years of gains for soda tax advocates in cities like Boulder, Colo., San Francisco and Philadelphia, the repeal of Chicago's sugar tax could suggest a turning of the tide in the public attitude towards such measures.

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