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Dems fret over Preckwinkle’s pop tax

Friday, Aug 11, 2017

* Pearson and Durdick

Concern about the political effects of a deeply unpopular county pop tax — on top of recent state and city tax increases — on Thursday hung over the first day of Cook County Democrats’ endorsement session for next year’s primary election.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took the podium to make the first pitch of the day, asking the party she vice-chairs for an endorsement for re-election next year. The beverage tax that she broke a tie vote to approve in November has been collected for just more than a week, but state Rep. Luis Arroyo asked her whether she would repeal it.

“My answer is no,” Preckwinkle responded. “We had a choice last fall, either raise revenue, or make 1,100 cuts in personnel and lay off 1,100 people, and I thought then, I think now, that would severely impact the quality of services.” […]

Preckwinkle afterward avoided addressing potential political fallout of the tax and instead defended its passage. Other Democrats expressed worries, though, that the controversial drink tax could combine with a state income tax hike and increases in city property taxes to sow the seeds for a potential voter tax revolt against Democrats in November 2018.

Northwest Side Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 38th, said he expects some backlash against the pop tax “down the road in the election next year.” People complaining to him about the tax “are blaming Preckwinkle and the Democrats,” he said, adding that the income tax increase would compound the problem.

* The governor, meanwhile, tried to make some political hay out of the brouhaha

Rauner told WVON that it’s “another terrible instance. These politicians just keep taxing. They’re putting taxes on the people of Illinois. This terrible sugar tax is outrageous. Toni Preckwinkle should have never done it” and that “the whole system is broken. This is just more of the problems of these politicians thinking taxes are the answer. Taxing and spending is a disaster and the sugar tax has to be fixed.”


* But

The Republican governor had previously flirted with a state soda tax as part of a potential budget compromise, and backed a GOP proposal that relied on a state income tax increase similar to the one that became law in July over his objections.

He did more than just flirt with the idea. He pushed the Senate hard behind the scenes for months to approve a sugary drink tax.

* And check this out

On Thursday, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed a resolution asking the General Assembly to urge the Cook County Board to immediately repeal the tax because of its negative impact on the “already over-taxed residents” of Cook County. […]

Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, is the resolution’s chief co-sponsor, making it a bipartisan effort.

* Related…

* Feds, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven Aim to Pop Illinois Soda Tax: Meanwhile, a growing number of class actions are being filed against retailers. At least two lawsuits contend that large retailers collect the tax on products exempted from taxation.

* Crain’s Chicago Business: Here’s our 2 cents on Preckwinkle’s penny-an-ounce pop tax: If Preckwinkle were reinforcing the barricades for a good cause—namely, paying down debt after reining in costs—we might cheer her on, as we have after she trimmed the notoriously bloated county government, rolled out needed criminal justice reforms and realized efficiencies in hospital operations. But over the years, the no-nonsense reformer has morphed into someone reminiscent of the Strogers, whose multigenerational reign over Cook County helped create the bloat, malaise and waste that she so effectively campaigned against in 2010.

* Feds, state lawmaker attack Cook County soda tax, its implementation: On Thursday, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed a resolution asking the General Assembly to urge the Cook County Board to immediately repeal the tax because of its negative impact on the “already over-taxed residents” of Cook County.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - JB13 - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Rauner 2018: Did you like the Cook County pop tax? Coming statewide in 2019, if you don’t vote for me.

    Book it.

  2. - Cook County - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    I went to a grocery store in Cook County today and did not purchase some lemonade when the clerk told me it was subject to the new tax. I asked her if the new tax was impacting sales of pop, etc. She said ‘nobody is buying it anymore’.

  3. - blue dog dem - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    What’s to worry. Dems and Repubs have been sticking it to the WPAMC for decades. If you talk a good enough game and promise enough govt provided goodies, we will forget and forgive.

  4. - Mike Cirrcincione - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    Thats a rich comment from Bruce.

    As he chugs his sweetened beverages on the patio at the mansion in Winnetka-stan.

  5. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    Not buying lemonade or even a Cokes pales in comparison to being unable to get a decent education.

    Whose fault is that, Bruce?

  6. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    The likelihood of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and Board President turning R is somewhere between none and nil. I can foresee some bump R;s in statewide R races, as well as D challengers at the county level, over this issue.

  7. - Anon - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    The pop tax is the embodiment of an insatiable appetite for tax revenue that knows no bounds.

    It may also be the straw that finally (hopefully) breaks the camels back of politicians that want to tax every activity in our daily lives.

    The pop tax won’t satisfy the appetite for more revenue, and they will look for another scheme next as many of these folks genuinely feel untouchable.

    I hope this fiasco will one day be seen as the turning point where the people of Illinois finally say “enough” when it comes to these nickel and dime taxing schemes that treat our citizens as veritable atm’s for the powerful and connected to spread around our hard earned money.

  8. - Amalia - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    Rauner only dated the sweetened drink tax. Toni married it. Big difference. Cook County Board needs to shut down Oak Forest and Provident, review court operations for streamlining, and tell Toni not to run again. And repeal the tax. It’s bad for business and bad for Dem politics.

  9. - Responsa - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    ==But over the years, the no-nonsense reformer has morphed into someone reminiscent of the Strogers, whose multigenerational reign over Cook County helped create the bloat, malaise and waste that she so effectively campaigned against in 2010.==

    Whoa. Brutal, yet totally fair takedown of Toni by Crain’s.

  10. - Angry Republican - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    The “pop tax” covers way more than just soda pop; it also hits Gatorade, Red Bull, and many other beverages. All those sporting events in Cook County like the Chicago Marathon will need to add a Gatorade surcharge to the registration fee.

  11. - Perrid - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    Hurting the most vulnerable? This tax is completely avoidable. Yes it sucks if you are on a tight enough budget that you can’t afford a few dollars more a month for soda. You shouldn’t have to choose between a treat for yourself and paying bills. But no one is going to be physically harmed by not having soda or tea. Unlike the harm done from the cuts in social services. We can talk about whether or not the tax is a good idea, but “Harming our most vulnerable” is just a ridiculous statement.

  12. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:00 am:

    Pritzker should be up quickly with an ad saying that Rauner pushed for a statewide sugary drink tax. Make them play defense.

  13. - Responsa - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Perrid–if, as you suggest,consumers avoid pop, thereby avoiding the tax—thus not providing the revenue Toni wants– then what is the point of making everybody (especially retailers) suffer for nothing?

  14. - City Zen - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:09 am:

    ==All those sporting events in Cook County like the Chicago Marathon will need to add a Gatorade surcharge to the registration fee.==

    Not if they purchase their Gatorade outside Cook County. They’re not selling Gatorade anyway.

  15. - Rabid - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    Sugar tax hurting venerable residents,the GOP sugar daddy’s Kool-aid stand is in trouble

  16. - Cassandra - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    I don;t drink soda, but I believe from observing others, alas, even members of my own family, that
    it is rather addictive, so I doubt folks will stop buying it for long. And if they plan to do their shopping outside of Illinois, don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas, not to mention the time involved in out of state shopping.

    I suspect Preckwinkle can survive this one, but Amalia does have a point about streamlining Cook County government, an area where she has barely touched the surface.

  17. - Fax Machine - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    Stratton comes out of the Preckwinkle machine - don’t be surprised if ILGOP makes the connection between Juliana & “Pop Tax Toni”

  18. - Responsa - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    Cassandra, it really doesn’t take all that much gas to drive over the Cook County line south into Will, west into DuPage or north into Lake for people to buy their soda along with other groceries.

  19. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    No more $1.50 hot dog/soda at Costco

  20. - Sox Fan - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    ===No more $1.50 hot dog/soda at Costco===

    My favorite “Pizza by the Slice” place went from $6.00 for a Pizza and a Pop to $6.50.

  21. - Fax Machine - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    This whole debacle shows that polls can be worthless - a lesson a lot of politicians need to learn.

    Before this passed, it polled about as well as a tax could. After it was implemented people are grabbing torches and pitchforks.

  22. - NoGifts - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:43 am:

    I bought a bottle of “tonic water” from cvs this week - water, sugar and quinine. Happy to see it wasn’t subject to the tax so keep on drinking those gin and tonics!

  23. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the county would operate better as a lean and mean machine. They should have gone with the 1,100 people laid off.

  24. - Politix - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    Let’s unpack this tweet, shall we?

    1) What does IL’s most vulnerable have to do with the sugary beverage tax? Everyone in Cook County pays the tax. Does the Best Comms TIAtm not understand how sales tax works?

    3) Bruce (faux) fretting over impact of someone else’s decisions on IL’s most vulnerable: That’s rich. So rich my teeth hurt.

    2) Tweeting something that has nothing to do with the link: Cheap

    3) Complaining about a tax he considered placing himself: Trumpian

    4) Only the truly terribly inept could fail at criticizing the beverage tax. They can’t even pile on right.

  25. - Will Caskey - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    Maybe next time state and Chicago Dems will raise revenue when they SHOULD instead of right before their entire government collapses into a Somaliland-style free for all.

    Maybe then tax increases will be a normal part of life and not hit everyone in one big wave so they’re understandably really angry.

    ….nah let’s just whine about Preckwinkle, the one person who’s been responsible with her budget over her tenure.

  26. - Anon - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    Nanny state taxes like this tax are what enable the Trump’s and Rauner’s of the world to take power in the first place.

    People like Preckwinkle insult the intelligence of our citizens rather than just saying we need more tax money and being transparent about it.

    That type of approach feeds the elitist out of touch narrative and creates the conditions for outsiders to thrive.

    If the government is too embarrassed to be upfront with its citizens about what it actually costs to run it then maybe they should downsize.

    Resorting to things like taxing sugary beverages to fill budget holes screams incompetence to the masses because everyone knows it has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with the voracious appetite for more and more taxes that seemingly has no end.

    People are tired of it, particularly when you’ve already raised their income/property taxes quite substantially.

    Coming after people’s groceries after doing a hit job on their incomes is just a bridge too far for many.

  27. - Keyser Soze - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    This brings to mind Michael Bilandic.

  28. - Periwinkle - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    “Hurts our most vulnerable residents?” I really don’t understand why people can’t just drink fewer sweetened beverages. This isn’t brain surgery. We tax cigarettes heavily largely because they’re terrible for you. This is the same thing, if lesser in degree.

  29. - Chicago_Downstater - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    I live in Chicago & I don’t work for the County or any other governmental agency.

    I’m more than willing to pay the additional tax on the sweetened drinks that I guzzle even though I shouldn’t because I think the County provides valuable services & employment to a lot of us that live in Cook.

    If they do repeal the “soda tax,” then the Board should publish a list of all the people they had to fire & the likely impacts to services they expect just because people don’t like paying a tax on what is–at the end of the day– a “luxury item” in order to fund the government services they benefit from everyday.

  30. - Pragmatic - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    Cigarettes kill people.
    Drinks with sugar kill people.
    If these products remain legal, then tax them heavily to discourage use and raise revenue.

  31. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    My biggest gripe is the uneven application. In the effort to supposedly encourage people away from sugary drinks, they catch diet drinks and juice drinks in the crossfire. That can or bottle of regular Coke is bad for you, so pay a tax. That Starbucks Frappucino with whipped cream on it? That’s fine.

    While unrealistic to say that any R’s will get in because of this in Cook, the door is open for D primary challengers to Preckwinkle, the Board members who voted in favor, and to Joe Berrios because of his issues. It could also suppress turnout in statewide races as enthusiasm wanes for tax and spend.

  32. - Amalia - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    responsible with her budget? not when there are real reforms to be had.

    Ron Burgundy hits it right, uneven application. Confusion. False reasoning. dumb move.

  33. - Pragmatic - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    == In the effort to supposedly encourage people away from sugary drinks, they catch diet drinks and juice drinks in the crossfire.==

    I agree to some extent. Drinks with zero (or very low) calories should not be taxed.

  34. - Responsa - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    Ron Burgundy @ 1:09 pm–I think via Toni a whole new generation has learned in real time the origins of the phrase “tax and spend” which previously they may not have fully understood the meaning of, or that was only words to them before. They are also witnessing that there is not Dem unity on this type of sweetened beverage tax issue which is an important civics lesson as well.

  35. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:25 pm:

    Also, the only reason this is a “public safety issue” is because the proponents are positioning it as such. They chose which 1,100 or so employees in the vast Cook County bureaucracy to lay off. They could have very well chosen non-public safety personnel.

  36. - words - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    Are Rauner/Griff going to put up some dough to attract other than punching bags to run for the GOP against Preckwinkle and Berrios next year?

    It certainly would be in Rauner’s interest to do so.

    For all you county romantics, Cook provides the biggest GOP vote, by far, yet there is virtually no organized effort to speak of.

    Believe me, the potential to increase GOP vote in Cook is there. But it starts with money and effort.

    And maybe someone smart to spend it. But I guess Rauner purged all those guys.

  37. - SKI - Friday, Aug 11, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    Angry Republican, Chicago Marathon would not need to add any fees for a tax on Gatorade as long as they buy it in powder form and add it to water (which is what most road races actually do). That is exempt.

    But, to your overall point. Yes, this tax is ridiculous.

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