With a 15-1 vote, the Finance Committee of the Cook County Board of Commissioners sent the sweetened beverage tax swirling toward the drain on Tuesday, setting in motion a likely repeal of the controversial penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks.
After nearly five hours of public comment — featuring Cook County Clerk David Orr, Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown and Public Defender Amy Campanelli — the committee voted to sunset the tax by Dec. 1.
The only nay vote on the repeal came from Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston).
The committee’s decision precedes a vote by the full Board on Wednesday. But the full board comprises the same commissioners eligible to vote Tuesday.
In a statement, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle expressed “disappointment in today’s outcome.”
“Today the board exercised its collective will and set in motion a repeal of the sweetened beverage tax we approved last year,” Preckwinkle said. “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.”
The tax has been controversial since it was narrowly passed by the board after Preckwinkle cast the deciding vote when commissioners deadlocked on the measure.
The tide turned on the tax last Friday, when a bipartisan deal to rescind the tax was announced. The tax will stay in effect through the end of the county’s fiscal year — on Nov. 30.
Those in support of a repeal have more than enough support to override a Preckwinkle veto. That’s a major setback to Preckwinkle, who has argued that the tax was needed to avoid major cuts to the public health and safety sectors.
Dueling ad campaigns have argued that the tax is either an onerous burden on consumers that is hurting small businesses, or a way to provide desperately needed funds and promote healthy choices and combat child obesity.
The Can the Tax Coalition, a…