The Cook County soda tax could be repealed this afternoon


Update: The final vote of the Cook County Finance Committee of the Whole to repeal the county's Sweetened Beverage Tax today (Tuesday) was 15 to 1 in favor of repeal with one absent.

The Chicago Tribune reported that 12 out of 17 commissioners have signed on to repeal the sugary drink tax ordinance-enough to override a veto by the board president.

Morrison and Frank Shuftan, spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, both said statements would be issued after today's vote. In August, about 80 percent of those polled said they believed commissioners passed the tax to raise funds and not for health reasons. If the item passes at today's committee meeting, commissioners would take a second vote to accept the finance committee report at Wednesday's regular county board meeting. 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". Cook County working families and businesses have overwhelmingly rejected the county's beverage tax. It has brought in $16 million to the county so far. 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.

Advocates of that movement - which include a number of top public health groups and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg - have advanced the taxes as a means to fight obesity while also raising revenue for local jurisdictions.

Cook County commissioner John Fritchey, a Democrat from Chicago, suggested taxing legalized recreational marijuana as an alternative revenue source in lieu of a soda tax, and is introducing a county board resolution to do so.