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Chicago area's soft-drink tax repealed by county board

Chicago area's soft-drink tax repealed by county board

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, was alone in voting to keep it.

Controversial tax on soda in Cook County, Ill., could end up on the chopping block.

The tax prompted lawsuits, a warning from a federal agency that IL could lose millions in funding for food stamp benefits and complaints of plummeting sales from store owners. Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to repeal the widely unpopular tax, effective December 1. The Illinois Public Health Institute and Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity said in a joint statement that it was a "bad deal" for taxpayers who will have to pay for rising health care costs related to drinking too many sugary beverages.

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After delays related to a lawsuit from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the tax on sugary beverages went into effect this past August. Preckwinkle has said there could be an 11 percent budget cut resulting in layoffs with repeal of the tax. "IL law required that the tax be levied on consumers, while all other cities tax beverage distributors, which is a simpler process", Krieger said in a statement. For instance, he said, a sweet bottled drink would be taxed while a similar beverage from a barista would be exempt.

Bloomberg has spent $5 million on ads supporting the Cook County sweetened beverage tax - citing the health benefits of fewer pop sales. Board President Toni Preckwinkle is considering his options, including vetoing the repeal.

The tax passed previous year when Board President Toni Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote after commissioners deadlocked on the measure.


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