Pop Tax Repeal OK Expected Today In Cook County Committee Vote

Cook County's soda tax has officially lost its fizzle. The ordinance eliminates the so-called soda tax beginning December 1, the first day of fiscal year 2018. The full board is expected to OK the repeal Wednesday.

The tax passed a year ago when Board President Toni Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote after commissioners deadlocked on the measure.

Public and local media opinion ran consistently high against the tax, which its supporters deemed necessary for public health but which was revealed to be primarily a revenue grab by a county government looking to plug holes in its budget.

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County Board Commissioner Richard Boykin, who has led the charge against the tax, has proposed cutting spending and eliminating vacant positions to make up for the revenue generated by the tax, which added 68 cents to the price of a 2-liter bottle and 72 cents to the cost of a six-pack.

Mt. Everest Restaurant manager Vishal Chamling also said the soda tax hadn't significantly impacted his business, as soda is not popular among his clientele.

At least eight other localities have some tax on sweetened drinks.

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a long-time critic of the health effects of sweetened beverages, had joined the Cook County fight as well, investing more than $5 million on political messaging to prop up the tax program.

The 15-2 vote reflected the overwhelming opposition the tax faced among Cook County residents.

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". Sugar-drink taxes have been successfully implemented in seven jurisdictions across the United States in the last four years. Krieger further criticized efforts by "Big Soda" to oppose the tax.

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