The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Committee Moves To Scrap Pop Tax Ahead Of Wednesday's Final Vote

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 10, 2017 9:55PM

The expensive stuff / Getty Images / Photo: Justin Sullivan

As advertised, a Cook County Board committee voted for a measure that sets up the repeal of the pop tax.

The County Board Finance Committee voted 15-1, with one absent vote, to repeal.

The full board votes tomorrow and is expected to stamp out the last embers and also vote to repeal. Last week it became clear that the Board had sufficient numbers to override a potential veto by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the chief advocate for the surcharge.

Preckwinkle warned in a budget proposal last week that key public-health programs and services could be on the chopping block without the revenue brought in by the tax, which charges a penny per ounce on sugary beverages. She has argued that the tax will generate $200 million per year. The fiscal year ends on Nov. 30.

Preckwinkle said in a statement:

"Today the board exercised its collective will and set in motion a repeal of the sweetened beverage tax we approved last year. 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. Now, together, we must chart a new course toward the eighth consecutive balanced budget of my tenure as board president.

While I am disappointed in today’s outcome, I am grateful to the dedicated public health advocates at the American Heart Association and the Illinois Public Health Institute who have supported us every step of the way. And I am thankful for the talented professionals at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System who are committed to promoting better health outcomes for residents across the County, especially in our vulnerable communities.

As I noted last month, the difficult fight for this revenue has focused me on what matters most: doing the hard work necessary to build a healthier, safer and more efficient Cook County.

That work continues."

Commissioner Richard Boykin said there is room for reasonable cuts in the budget, and Jeffrey Tobolski argued that the Board should reexamine certain pension and benefit plans of public employees.

The single no vote came from Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who said he was proud to vote to keep the tax and championed Preckwinkle for sticking to her guns. Commissioner Jerry Butler was absent; and the remaining commissioners voted to repeal.

A recent poll found that a whopping 86 percent oppose the tax.

More or less since the tax was instated, in August, forces for and against the measure have poured millions of dollars into efforts to lobby public interest. Expect the coup de grace tomorrow.