Preckwinkle's sweetened beverage tax repealed

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The county board's president, Toni Preckwinkle, had vigorously defended the penny-per-ounce tax, which had been forecast to raise $200 million annually, on both public-health and fiscal grounds, backed by an advertising push from Michael Bloomberg, the former NY mayor.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted, 15-2, to repeal a penny-per-ounce tax that went into effect on August 2. The tax went into effect on August 2, and has faced public backlash fueled by a repeal campaign funded by the American Beverage Association.

Store owners, drink companies and bottlers all battled the tax.

The committee took the first step to repeal the ill-favored sweetened beverage tax on Tuesday and is expected to finalize the vote tomorrow.

Even if the repeal succeeds, Cook County residents and visitors will still pay a tax on sports drinks, diet colas and sweetened beverages throughout the fall, as the repeal measure doesn't take effect until December 1.

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Proponents of the tax claimed it would improve public health by discouraging the purchase of sugary drinks, which have been connected to health issues like obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Preckwinkle has not said whether she will veto the repeal measure. It applies not just to soda, but also to sports drinks, iced tea and lemonade, and comes on top of beverage taxes imposed by IL and Chicago.

Some retailers opposed to the tax posted signs in the soda aisle telling customers they will pay $1.44 more on each 12-pack of soda because of the tax, and urging them to tell their county commissioner to repeal it.

"I assume those commissioners who are interested in (alternate) revenue will come forward with ideas", she said.

Preckwinkle warned commissioners Thursday 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. They have until November 30 to approve a budget.

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