STUMP » Articles » Cook County Soda Tax: Dear Lord, It's Not Dead Yet » 16 August 2017, 19:20

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Cook County Soda Tax: Dear Lord, It's Not Dead Yet  


16 August 2017, 19:20

Oh lordie. This thing. Still lives.


Well, of course she does.

Why the soda pop tax is essential: Preckwinkle

On Aug. 11, Crain’s shared its “two cents” about the sweetened beverage tax and questioned not only the necessity of raising more revenue for essential Cook County services, but also my intent. Your conclusion that “it’s possible Preckwinkle simply doesn’t care” about the people of Cook County is offensive and untrue.

I care about the people of Cook County, which is why I asked commissioners to consider the tough choice of raising taxes to continue the progress we have made on many important fronts.

I take seriously the obligation of ensuring quality health care to Cook County residents, especially those who are highest risk and most at need, through Cook County Health and Hospitals System. Health care is one of our legacy missions, and one in which I am deeply invested.

I take seriously the need to protect the people of Cook County through a fair and equitable criminal justice system. We have worked hard to make significant changes in bond court, reduce the jail population and have succeeded in making changes in juvenile justice laws.

These core functions are what the county’s revenue pays for.

Meanwhile, Big Soda has spent millions of dollars to galvanize opposition to the 1-cent-per-ounce beverage tax. We know what their millions are going toward—fighting against the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association and the other leading health care advocacy groups.

Our financial challenges are real and the choice is a simple one—revenue we expect from the sweetened beverage tax or draconian layoffs that affect indispensable county services, mostly in the public safety and public health arenas, which together comprise 87 percent of our budget.

Finally, the notion that I have not reined in county costs in my tenure is untrue. Since I took over as president in 2010, we have balanced our budget every year. We have closed $1.8 billion in gaps and cut $657 million in expenditures. We have downsized the county’s workforce by 10 percent and cut our bonded indebtedness by 11 percent. We are confronting our pension fund shortfall. I challenge you to find another government in our state that has taken these issues head on. We have.

My pledge to Cook County residents is a government that runs efficiently, and effectively; one that is dedicated to improving services in a transparent and accountable way; and above all else, one that is fiscally responsible. I remain committed to this vision.

Toni Preckwinkle is president of the Cook County Board.


I’m scared!


Okay, there are two things here:

1. What is it? Is this to increase tax revenue or cut down soda consumption? What if nobody drinks sugary soda? What then?

2. I think you’ll find it’s more small retailers than BIG SODA that is more pissed off at this. Small retailers are probably more hurt — if Cook County is their only location, they’re screwed (and perhaps should move somewhere more congenial, like the Dakotas).

The small retailers are especially screwed in trying to apply a special tax that has so many exemptions and rules. BIG SODA ain’t having to fix their point-of-sale software to get it to work.

There are not-so-small retailers like 7-11 and Walgreen’s who are hurt because they’re juicy targets for class action lawyers (who aren’t going to bother attacking small retailers.)

This tax is idiotic, and while it’s popular with a certain crowd, this is even worse in terms of optics than cigarette taxes.


They may as well do something popular. (Yes, I’m still ignoring the budget/SB 1 crap right not)

House Republicans to introduce bill to block Cook County pop tax

Five Republican members of the Illinois House of Representatives introduced a bill that would kill Cook County’s tax on sweetened beverages.

Four of them — Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), Christine Winger (R-Bloomingdale), Peter Breen (R-Lombard) and Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) — discussed the legislation at a news conference Tuesday morning at the Thompson Center. Also sponsoring the bill is Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego).

House Bill 4082 would prevent any home rule county from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold. The bill applies to any county ordinance adopted on or before the effective date of the bill, which would repeal the existing Cook County ordinance.

“The tax is another cash grab at the expense of those who can least afford it,” Winger, who represents the 45th district, said.

Winger went on to say that in parts of Bartlett, Illinois, which is part of DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties, sales have dropped around 80 percent because people are choosing to go elsewhere or are not buying sweetened beverages.

Breen reiterated that the tax could drive people out of the county to do their shopping and it creates a questionable image for county families.

“Isn’t it incredible that we’re getting to a place where, because of our taxes, a can of Budweiser is going to cost less than a can of Coca Cola?” Breen asked. “What kind of message are you sending to your children and your community?”

I’ve very happy that so many people have realized that (crappy) beer is cheaper than soda in Cook County just because of this tax.


My favorite bit: trolling twitter for soda tax tweets.

Above we see the schizoid reaction:
2. Don’t pay the tax by not drinking soda….[thus starving the county of tax revenue]

This tweeter should’ve just stuck to part 1, because when you throw in part 2, you get something that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Notice that last — Coke Zero.

It may have a more “manly” label, but Coke Zero has no sugar in it, just like Diet Coke.

Looks like they’ve changed up the flavor a bit, but it still has the same sort of artificial non-sugar sweeteners than Diet Coke has. It has zero calories.

(oooh, Coke with sugar! aka Mexican Coke…or in my neck of the woods, kosher-for-passover Coke)

Why is the soda tax being imposed on Coke Zero? It’s not supposed to be, right?


More hot water for Preckwinkle’s pop tax:

Cook County is in hot water with yet another government agency over its pop tax, this time the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

In a letter to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the commission wrote that even though the tax on sweetened beverages excludes alcohol, many of the wholesalers to which it applies distribute both kinds of products and therefore have to deal with the tax complications of the county’s new levy. As a result, it “may lead to practices that violate the Illinois Liquor Control Act.”


Okay, let’s see what they have to say:

ILCC is concerned that the unintended consequences of the refund and credit procedure for the sweetened beverage tax would result in ongoing, continuous violations of existing law,” commission Executive Director Donovan Borvan wrote. Other difficulties he cited include “extreme costs of enforcement and audit, and the potential for mandatory denial of deliveries to retailers.”

The letter concludes by asking for a meeting to discuss the matter. But even though it was dated nearly a month and a half ago, on June 30, the commission has not heard back, according to its spokesman. And Preckwinkle’s spokesman is strongly suggesting there will be no response.

Yes, I’m sure that will go well. If your county tax breaks state law… I’m thinking you lose.

“We do not support this two-month-old concern that a credit properly documented to address a tax refund would be deemed something of ‘value’ under the Liquor Control Act,” Preckwinkle spokesman Frank Shuftan said in an email. “Plus, this addresses beverages that are NOT under the jurisdiction of the commission. It is our understanding the trade group has provided guidance to their members on this matter, and the county remains available to the commission.”

Nice try with the “old news” aspect. Sounds like you didn’t address it two months ago, so the concern is still live.

Anyway, you can read the story yourself, if you care. The specifics aren’t really important. It’s that this tax is extremely unpopular with loads of people, and Preckwinkle thinks this is a hill worth dying for.

Despite the hullabaloo over the tax, Preckwinkle shows no sign of backing off. A motion to repeal the penny-an-ounce levy is expected at the board meeting next month, but Preckwinkle has vowed to veto it and appears to have the votes to sustain her veto.

Well, I hope it’s worth it to all of you.

Because so many revolts are tax revolts.

It’s funny how ideology will move very few, but if you’re talking money… yeah, the populace will boot your ass. Even in authoritarian regimes, it didn’t work out too well.

Editorial: Madam President, abolish the soda tax

County officials knew the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages was unpopular, but we suspect they underestimated the public wrath it would provoke once shoppers saw how much it added to the cost of their daily purchases.

A We Ask America Polls survey commissioned by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and conducted Aug. 3 through Aug. 6 found that 87 percent of respondents disapproved of the tax. Yes, 87 percent. Though the tax was sold as a public health initiative, 80 percent believe it’s a money grab. And 83 percent said they would be less likely to re-elect a member of the Cook County Board who voted for it. (That chance comes in 2018.)

Whew. No positive spin in those numbers. The soda tax is about as popular as a hornet in a hospital nursery.
Madam President, listen to your constituents. They don’t want the soda tax. They’re speaking to you. Pay attention. Gather up your finance wizards and find a way to roll back the tax and reduce county spending instead. Cut personnel. Consolidate departments. Limit services to the essentials. Stand firm against unaffordable pay and benefit packages of your unionized workforce.

Your support for the tax helps them get their raises. But it’s costing you. This rebellion against the soda tax can be a teachable moment. Grasp it.

Well, good luck with that. The letter I led with is her response to editorials like these. People think it’s a money grab, and it’s obviously a money grab. That’s the only reason they’re really doing it — they need to money to pay for all sorts of things in their operating budget. They’re going to be supremely unhappy if people really do reduce their soda drinking (or just buying elsewhere) and thus they get less $$ than they thought.

Preckwinkle has put herself in the position in not being able to back down, and I assume her Democratic colleagues in the state legislature don’t want to make her look bad, so they won’t let the anti-soda tax laws go through….

New legislation would ban Cook County soda tax

A Schaumburg state representative has introduced legislation that would prevent counties from taxing soda or sweetened beverages as Cook County has begun to do.

Democrat Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg filed the bill this week as lawmakers returned to Springfield for a special session focused on education funding.

Mussman’s bill would amend the state’s county code to prevent any home rule or non-home rule county from imposing a retailers occupation tax, use tax, sales tax or other tax on sweetened beverages. It would also eliminate any taxes on sweetened beverages that are currently in place.

Moylan said the tax is hurting the local economy and causing people to buy soda and other beverages in other counties outside of Cook County.

Twelve lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, are co-sponsors of the bill, which is before the House Revenue and Finance Committee.

Oh, hmm. Perhaps Preckwinkle will get saved from her own botched tax via actual bipartisan action in the state legislature.

She should be so lucky.

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