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Cook County officials vote 15-1 to repeal sugary drink tax

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
ABC 7 Chicago
by Diane Pathieu

Cook County officials took a major step toward repealing a Chicago-area tax on sweetened beverages with a 15-1 vote to repeal it. The repeal of the tax still faces a vote from the full board which is expected on Wednesday.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released a statement that said, in part, "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."

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce acting president and CEO Michael Reever released a statement saying, "The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce applauds the vote today by the Commissioners to repeal the sweetened beverage tax. Chicagoland businesses and consumers have faced a cumulative impact of new taxes, fees and regulations which have taken its toll. This was the tipping point. We are committed to working with the county towards policies that create jobs, opportunity and revenue for the county,"

The county board's finance committee met Tuesday and voted on a measure to repeal the unpopular penny-per-ounce tax. Commissioner Sean Morrison said last week he had enough "yes" votes to eliminate the tax effective December 1 and withstand any potential veto.

Public comment took place on Tuesday morning and more than 150 people were lined up to speak at the meeting.

Though the commissioner said that the vote to repeal could be 15-2, board member Jerry Butler was absent on Tuesday. It takes 11 votes to override a veto. The tax was expected to raise $200 million per year. It has brought in $16 million to the county so far.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote to approve the tax. She argues it will make residents healthier and raise enough money to balance the county's budget.

Preckwinkle has said without revenue from the tax the county will have to make deep cuts to spending on health care and public safety.

The repeal measure still would face a final vote before the board on Wednesday.

WLS-TV contributed to this report.

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