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Cook County Puts the Kibosh On the Beverage Tax

12 October 2017, 12:25 | Austin Hogan

Cook County Puts the Kibosh On the Beverage Tax

Chicago

The ordinance calls for a penny-an-ounce tax on sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages.

"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. But among its supporters were health advocates such as billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose super PAC ran more than $2 million worth of ads defending the tax as a way to fight obesity and other health conditions.

The committee took the first step to repeal the ill-favored sweetened beverage tax on Tuesday and is expected to finalize the vote tomorrow. The tax has been tormented in its very short life by legitimate challenges, execution glitches, and a howling multimillion-dollar media battle amongst the soda industry and public health groups.

Gainer said she is committed to working with Preckwinkle and her colleagues "to approach the 2018 budget line-by-line and find alternate ways to close the budget gap". It applies not just to soda, but also to sports drinks, iced tea and lemonade, and comes on top of beverage taxes imposed by IL and Chicago.

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Cook County, which includes Chicago, was the largest jurisdiction in the country with a soda tax. 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".

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

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle had defended the tax, saying it was necessary to fund essential county services, but has said she will work with the board to balance the budget without the estimated $200 million in annual revenue.



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