By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Despite warnings from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle of steep budget cuts across the county if her pop tax was repealed, the Cook County Board Committee rejected her sweetened beverage tax 15-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 10, after a nearly four-hour session.
Preckwinkle warned commissioners Thursday, Oct. 5, that they would be forced to make steep cuts across the county to make up for the lost revenue officials counted on from the tax to balance next year’s $5.4 billion budget.
“It means we will have a $200 million hole in our budget and we’re really challenged in terms of delivering health care services, and our criminal justice reforms,” Preckwinkle said in an interview with the Herald Tuesday. “We’ve worked hard to reduce the number of people in our jails. So let me start with who’s in jail it’s basically black and brown poor people.”
The tax, which was projected to raise $200 million annually, raised $16 million from Aug. 3 to Sept. 20, approximately $2 million less than expected, according to Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Preckwinkle.
“Today, I voted with 15 of my colleagues on the Cook County Board of Commissioners to repeal the Soda Tax,” said Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10) in a written statement. “This overwhelming majority to repeal was shared by the bars, restaurants and constituents within the 10th district.”
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.”
The committee took the first step to repeal the ill-favored sweetened beverage tax on Tuesday and is expected to finalize the vote tomorrow.