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Pop tax repeal clears major hurdle

Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Cook County’s penny-per-ounce sugary drink tax is one final step away from being repealed.

Despite threats from County Board President Toni Preckwinkle that a repeal would leave the county without enough money to pay for basic services, the County Board’s Finance Committee, which is made up of all 17 board members, voted overwhelmingly – 15-1 – Tuesday to recommend eliminating the tax, with one member absent. Commissioner Larry Suffredin was the sole vote to keep the tax. The full County Board is expected to formalize the repeal with a vote during its meeting Wednesday. […]

Some commissioners pushed back against all the dire warnings.

“The sky is not falling,” Commissioner Richard Boykin said, adding that there are places in the county budget that can be reasonably cut, including not filling hundreds of vacant positions that have been budgeted for. […]

Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski said Tuesday that taxpayers have made it clear they can’t take more tax hikes.

“People are tired of it,” he said. “They are literally being taxed out of their shoes. … We’re really going to need to retool the way we think.”

That includes addressing what he called Cadillac pension and other benefit plans that workers in the private sector don’t receive.

All commissioners sit on that committee, so tomorrow’s final repeal vote will be similar. The tax will be eliminated December 1st.

* The roll call…


* More…


* IRMA…

“This is great news for consumers and retailers throughout Cook County. Since its inception, this tax was poorly devised, placed an enormous operational and financial burden on retailers and saddled consumers with the responsibility to pick up the tab. We thank Commissioners Morrison and Boykin for leading the charge for repeal and all of the County Board members that have signed on to the repeal,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA.

…Adding… From Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle…

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

44 Comments »
  1. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 3:43 pm:

    As we say down here in So.Ill, this is a real knee slapper.


  2. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 3:45 pm:

    Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark.


  3. - Grand Avenue - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    The good news for Preckwinkle is that now the beverage industry, IRMA, etc don’t have any incentive to bankroll an opponent against her - They won already.


  4. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    Good for Suffredin. Stick with your belief, regardless of how unpopular it is. That’s what representative democracy is all about.


  5. - Rogue Roni - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 3:49 pm:

    Thank God this crisis will all be over soon. I hope Cook County can rebuild after this tragedy.


  6. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 3:49 pm:

    Is Commissioner Tobolski a fiscal conservative? Seems we could use him in Springfield. I pledge the first $1000 in his run for governor.


  7. - City Zen - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    “They are literally being taxed out of their shoes.”

    Please don’t give Taxi Popwinkle any ideas.


  8. - Earnest - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:03 pm:

    Legitimate criticisms aside, I celebrate Preckwinkle and any Illinois political leaders fiscally responsible enough to own either unpopular tax increases or unpopular budget cuts.


  9. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:04 pm:

    Wow. Take that Sugah.


  10. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    We haven’t heard the last from President Bloomberg.


  11. - cdog - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:13 pm:

    Maybe that impending union contract giveaway to labor, like Preckwinckle’s entire tenure has been filled with, will be more reasonable.

    I don’t think Cook Co is “buying” the blue state value of overpaying for getting basic services.


  12. - ChrisB - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:15 pm:

    @blue dog dem

    He’ll have the entire town of McCook behind him if he does.


  13. - Ghost - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:15 pm:

    How sweet it is


  14. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    For years the Democratic majority was able to deliver more high levels of services while not charging taxpayers the full costs. They used the unfunded pension costs to cover the gap.

    Given the strong and hostile reaction to the tax increases, I am not sure that the citizens want to support the current level of services. They certainly do not want to support the current level of services and pay back the money borrowed from the pension funds for previous services delivered.

    The perception that corruption pervades the city, county, and state does not help.


  15. - Responsa - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:32 pm:

    Repealing a tax such as this one is almost unheard of. I am impressed that this one reached critical mass and consumers and retailers jointly schooled the county commissioners on where their duty lay. Looks like my days of “pop running” for my Cook County friends and relatives is soon to be over.


  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:37 pm:

    Perhaps Toni’s advisors could propose a ten dollar tax on each pizza purchased. Since they are so attuned to public sentiment.


  17. - Robert the 1st - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:38 pm:

    =Good for Suffredin. Stick with your belief, regardless of how unpopular it is. That’s what representative democracy is all about.=

    Isn’t that actually an example of representative democracy failing? Shouldn’t Suffredin vote align with the majority of those he was elected to represent?


  18. - Robert the 1st - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:40 pm:

    Or maybe you were being sarcastic? I’m thinking that now that I’m rereading your comment.


  19. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 4:53 pm:

    Maybe you should read more Robert, then it would be easier to follow along with the conversation. From the father of conservatism:

    “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

    Edmund Burke


  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 5:28 pm:

    I liked the tax. Good idea, but not popular. The people have spoken.


  21. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 5:36 pm:

    I didn’t mind the tax at all.


  22. - Robert the 1st - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 5:42 pm:

    Edmund Burke came up with the trustee model of representation, as an alternative to representative democracy, which is what you referenced.


  23. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:03 pm:

    To those who liked the tax- It was first of all passed on the lie that it was passed for health issues, not for the reason Toni admitted to later that it was just a revenue raiser. What was taxed seems like names just pulled out of a hat, some things with sugar not taxed, others with low sugar content taxed at the same rate as things with high sugar content. It was passed with no consideration as to what it would do to businesses that would be affected by it. The entire Jewel bottom line probably wouldn’t be affected because people would go to a Jewel in DuPage, Lake or Will and spend there what they wouldn’t spend in Cook, but the smaller stores only in Cook would suffer. Or maybe that’s the “Progressive” anti-capitalism idea behind it. As I’ve commented before, while Toni is unpopular now, unless someone runs against her, those of us in Cook County will be stuck with her for another 4 years. You can’t beat someone with no one.


  24. - Ron - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:08 pm:

    The tax wasn’t even rasing half of projections. Please get the budget axe ready, Cook County’s citizens demand it.


  25. - Ron - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:12 pm:

    Maria Pappas is the best. She’s ready to cut spending in her Agency.


  26. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:16 pm:

    ===Maria Pappas is the best. She’s ready to cut spending in her Agency.===

    Lol! Does she still get a pedicure while watching her employees on closed circuit TV?


  27. - Morty - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:26 pm:

    Yet at the top of his website is an article on how he’s ‘pushing back’ against the 17% workforce reduction in Sheriff Dart’s office because the judge blocked implementaion of the tax.

    Tolbolkski sounds more like a have your cake and eat it guy than a fiscal consevative


  28. - PJ - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:32 pm:

    ===Shouldn’t Suffredin vote align with the majority of those he was elected to represent?===

    No. That’s the “representative” in representative democracy. Vote your district is generally a good policy, but there are times when taking a poll of your constituents and voting the way they want leads to terrible policy. Not saying that’s the case here, but just doing what >50% of your residents want is not how good policy is crafted. We elect people to make decisions for us. If we don’t like it, we vote for someone else.


  29. - Morty - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:39 pm:

    And Jeffrey Tobolski apparently doesn’t mind double dipping as a commissoner and the mayor of McCook.

    After privatizing his municipalities fire services.

    Sounds like a real peach


  30. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:44 pm:

    Larry Suffredin did what he believed was right. You might disagree with him but his vote was an example of doing what he thought was right instead of what was popular. That showed character and integrity, something rarely seen these days by elected officials.


  31. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 6:48 pm:

    People are tired of it,” he said. “They are literally being taxed out of their shoes. … We’re really going to need to retool the way we think.”

    That includes addressing what he called Cadillac pension and other benefit plans that workers in the private sector don’t receive.”

    That pretty much sums up Springfield too. Democrats have advocated for record tax hikes on middle class workers that don’t go towards better services but instead fund cadillac health and pension benefits for union special interests.


  32. - DriXander - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:16 pm:

    Suffredin made clear in his floor speech that after every mailer he received more call in support. That was what preceded his “bubble” comment. So he did vote his district.


  33. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:22 pm:

    This is a joke.
    This is a clear case of: we need to focus more on critical reading/thinking skills in school.
    Contrary to all the propaganda, no one needs sugary beverages or diet soda, so no one has to struggle to pay for it.
    Sugar is dead, the people of Illinois just don’t know it yet.
    It has no nutritional value.
    It’s poison.
    We are not living in a Middle Eastern refugee camp with no potable water. Everyone in Illinois has access to cheap, clean, healthy, fresh water.
    We’re supposed to sacrifice our health so that some businesses can remain profitable?
    Be creative. Find something else to sell.


  34. - Captain Obvious - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:34 pm:

    There is a lesson in all this for state government, but I doubt they learn it. Darn the taxpayers, let’s bleed them dry!


  35. - Snark - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:34 pm:

    =Everyone in Illinois has access to cheap, clean, healthy, fresh water.=

    Chicago taxes that too.


  36. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:37 pm:

    TinyDancer. I told ya it was a real knee slapper


  37. - Regular democrat - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:40 pm:

    Eddie Burke never said anything that profound in his 50 years as alderman


  38. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:51 pm:

    Isnt it ironic we give ConAgra tax incentives to move to Chicago and then we turn around and want to tax corn syrup.


  39. - James - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 7:57 pm:

    I think Toni believes the County needs new revenue. She ascertained commissioners wouldn’t support a property or sales tax increase. So she opted for a “sin” tax that was in place elsewhere.

    I think parents were a big part of the public base that objected, because many are on a budget, their kids and friends drink pop, the parents have no problem with this consumption, and the fact that the tax was tacked onto, rather than built into the price made it an easy and obvious target.

    The beverage industry did a good job rallying public support for repeal. The affected industries always sue, to test state and local taxes.

    I remember working for the City of Chicago when it passed a soft drink tax in 1994. Paul Vallas was director of revenue. He brought all the bottlers and restaurant supply providers into the room and around a table. He told them that the City (Mayor Daley) was set on imposing a soft drink tax, but he wanted industry involved in all decisions going forward about the administration of the tax, so it wouldn’t be too much of a burden. The industry made many positive suggestions that were adopted–the City wouldn’t have never thought of these by itself because they weren’t close enough to the administration in the field to anticipate potential problems.

    IRMA and others found their plaintiffs, sued, and lost as the plaintiffs did here.

    The public never understood that increased 1994 pop prices (if even noticeable since that tax was lower than the County’s) were due to a new City tax, because tax was collected and remitted by the bottlers and suppliers, who just built it into their wholesale and retail pricing.

    The legislatures were also different–the City had 50 aldermen, a comfortable majority of whom were owned by the Mayor. The County has only 17, some Republican. The times are also different; there is recent precedent for legislatures to defy their chief executive.

    Finally, Toni put too much emphasis on health, when she could have sold it as “unfortunately necessary new revenue, with a positive side benefit”. The public sees right through the health arguments, just as they know red light cameras are not primarily for safety.

    But hindsight is always 20-20.


  40. - anon2 - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 8:44 pm:

    Will the 15 commissioners be so eager to vote to cut $200M from the county budget, or to raise some other tax?


  41. - City Zen - Tuesday, Oct 10, 17 @ 10:04 pm:

    And Jeffrey Tobolski apparently doesn’t mind double dipping as a commissioner and the mayor of McCook. After privatizing his municipalities fire services.==

    McCook has a population of 228.


  42. - Real Taxpayer - Wednesday, Oct 11, 17 @ 7:58 am:

    A Tax that is optional and conditional in choosing to be a part of it? I liked this tax. I don’t drink sugary drinks. hmmmmmm


  43. - City Zen - Wednesday, Oct 11, 17 @ 8:52 am:

    ==A Tax that is optional and conditional in choosing to be a part of it?==

    A tax that can be as much as 70% of the purchase price.


  44. - Morty - Wednesday, Oct 11, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    -McCook has a population of 228.-

    And he has 27 relatives on McCook’s payroll


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