The Cook County Board of Commissioners plans to consider today whether to repeal the county’s widely unpopular new sweetened beverages tax. The board’s decision, coupled with the multi-million dollar battle being waged by powerful out-of-state proponents of the tax, means that there's a lot of money on the line here.

Chris Lentino, manager of Chicago outreach at the Illinois Policy Institute says:

Members of the Illinois House of Representatives have filed two bills that would ban the taxation of sweetened drinks by the ounce. Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending at least $5 million on advertisements in favor of the soda tax. Illinois residents, who already face the highest overall tax burden in the nation, are treated as targets.

Some polls have up to 90% of Cook County residents saying that they "absolutely hate" this tax, and are not buying the argument that it's all about public health. Many call it a "money grab," and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has done little to convince them otherwise. That, combined with the fact that a former New York City mayor with a reputation for trying to dictate how people live their lives is bankrolling the advertising campaign have resulted in some very angry protests:

Illinois Policy also offered up some background on the issue:

  • In Philadelphia, a sweetened beverage tax that was implemented in January 2017 has fallen $20 million short of projected revenue.
  • A plan to add a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages gained traction in the Illinois Senate earlier this year, but ultimately failed to advance.
  • Soda taxes are unpopular with residents. Nearly 90 percent of Cook County residents disapprove of the tax. Chicago residents already face up to five different taxes on soda alone.
  • To repeal the Cook County tax, nine commissioners must vote in favor. If Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle vetoes a repeal, 11 commissioners would need to vote in favor of repeal to override the veto.