Long quiet Chicago area taxpayers push back–and win in soda tax battle

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Long quiet Chicago area taxpayers push back--and win in soda tax battle

By John Ruberry

And it was inevitable that some of these peo­ple pushed back…“
Ray Brad­bury, The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles.

Over­taxed res­i­dents of Cook County, where Chicago is, are finally wak­ing up. After decades of being slapped by tax after tax – folks are fight­ing back.

Last week the Cook County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted to repeal a hated penny-​per-​ounce sweet­ened bev­er­age tax, one that until the repeal takes effect on Decem­ber 1, places a 39 per­cent tax on a $4.88 12-​pack of soda pop.

The pop tax is dead, but the issue is big­ger than the pop tax,” Cook County Com­mis­sioner John Fritchey (D-​Chicago) told the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass last week. “The issue here is that the peo­ple of Chicago and Cook County are not used to hav­ing their voices heard and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, with pub­lic out­rage forc­ing an elected body to reverse course. This is something.”

Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni “Taxwin­kle” Preck­win­kle (D-​Chicago) last year had to issue a rare tie-​breaking vote last year to enact the soda tax, which took effect two months ago. Last week com­mis­sion­ers voted 152 to kill it.

Over the years Cook County imposed with lit­tle push­back a 0.75 per­cent sales tax, along with tobacco, gaso­line, and liquor taxes, as well as an addi­tional one-​percent sales tax. Okay, there was a rebel­lion with that last one. Taxwin­kle defeated her unpop­u­lar pre­de­ces­sor in a Demo­c­ra­tic pri­mary on the promise to repeal it – and she fol­lowed through. Then five years later she led the effort to suc­cess­fully bring it back.

Chicagoans pay the nation’s high­est sales tax rate.

Mean­while Chicago res­i­dents have been pul­ver­ized by repeated prop­erty tax hikes to mainly pay for under­funded munic­i­pal worker pen­sions. Illi­noisans just got socked with a 32 per­cent income tax increase, much of that money will go to pen­sion oblig­a­tions. And Taxwin­kle has said that some of that soda tax money is needed for county worker pensions.

Taxwin­kle dis­missed crit­i­cism of the pop tax, which she ludi­crously claimed was a pub­lic health mea­sure, as the mes­sage of Big Soda. Yes, the Amer­i­can Bev­er­age Association’s Can the Tax Coali­tion did pay for tele­vi­sion, radio, and inter­net ads call­ing for a repeal. But Taxwkin­kle enlisted the aid of “Nanny” Michael Bloomberg, the bil­lion­aire for­mer New York City mayor, to pay for pro-​soda tax ads. And after the Illi­nois Retail Mer­chants Asso­ci­a­tion delayed impo­si­tion of the soda tax, Taxwin­kle quickly sued the group for $17 mil­lion in lost rev­enue, expos­ing her “it’s for our kids’ health” argu­ment as a lie.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_101456” align=“alignright” width=“218”] Toni “Taxwin­kle” Preckwinkle[/caption]

No fig­ures are avail­able, but anec­do­tal evi­dence is abun­dant that Cook County res­i­dents in droves have been dri­ving to col­lar coun­ties and Indi­ana to pur­chase pop since col­lec­tion of the soda tax began. And does any­one think they were only buy­ing soda on these gro­cery runs? And gee whiz, do you think they noticed that gaso­line, and well, a whole lot of other things are cheaper out­side Crook County?

Fill ‘er up. Oh, grab a case of beer too! Oh, and buy that stuff as long as we are here. And this stuff too!

Demo­c­ra­tic office hold­ers–and not just county ones–heard the sharp mes­sage from ordi­nary cit­i­zens: get rid of this tax!

The repeal of the sug­ary drink tax repeal is a big vic­tory for long suf­fer­ing Cook County res­i­dents such as myself. Cook is heav­ily Demo­c­ra­tic. Hillary Clin­ton won nearly three-​quarters of the vote in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Cook County hasn’t had a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent of the Cook County Board in nearly five decades, which is when the county’s pop­u­la­tion peaked.

Yet peo­ple in one of America’s bluest coun­ties screamed “Enough” and they pushed back.

But this vic­tory is only par­tial. The soon-​to-​be-​canned soda tax is only a symp­tom. Vot­ers need to under­stand why Taxwin­kle needs to spend so much. Pen­sions for union­ized retirees are only part of it. Taxwin­kle has been build­ing a mas­sive “free” public-​health care net­work that caters to the job­less and Cook’s bur­geon­ing ille­gal immi­grant com­mu­nity since tak­ing office seven years ago.

Chicago is a sanc­tu­ary city and Cook is a sanc­tu­ary county. And last month our state’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor, Bruce Rauner, signed a bill mak­ing Illi­nois a sanc­tu­ary state.

These may be the type of gov­ern­ments that Illi­nois vot­ers want. If it is, then so be it. But pre­pare to pay dearly for it too.

John Ruberry, a fifth-​generation Cook County res­i­dent, reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

“And it was inevitable that some of these people pushed back…”
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles.

Overtaxed residents of Cook County, where Chicago is, are finally waking up. After decades of being slapped by tax after tax–folks are fighting back.

Last week the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to repeal a hated penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax, one that until the repeal takes effect on December 1, places a 39 percent tax on a $4.88 12-pack of soda pop.

“The pop tax is dead, but the issue is bigger than the pop tax,” Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-Chicago) told the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass last week. “The issue here is that the people of Chicago and Cook County are not used to having their voices heard and making a difference, with public outrage forcing an elected body to reverse course. This is something.”

Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle (D-Chicago) last year had to issue a rare tie-breaking vote last year to enact the soda tax, which took effect two months ago. Last week commissioners voted 15-2 to kill it.

Over the years Cook County imposed with little pushback a 0.75 percent sales tax, along with tobacco, gasoline, and liquor taxes, as well as an additional one-percent sales tax. Okay, there was a rebellion with that last one. Taxwinkle defeated her unpopular predecessor in a Democratic primary on the promise to repeal it–and she followed through. Then five years later she led the effort to successfully bring it back.

Chicagoans pay the nation’s highest sales tax rate.

Meanwhile Chicago residents have been pulverized by repeated property tax hikes to mainly pay for underfunded municipal worker pensions. Illinoisans just got socked with a 32 percent income tax increase, much of that money will go to pension obligations. And Taxwinkle has said that some of that soda tax money is needed for county worker pensions.

Taxwinkle dismissed criticism of the pop tax, which she ludicrously claimed was a public health measure, as the message of Big Soda. Yes, the American Beverage Association’s Can the Tax Coalition did pay for television, radio, and internet ads calling for a repeal. But Taxwkinkle enlisted the aid of “Nanny” Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, to pay for pro-soda tax ads. And after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association delayed imposition of the soda tax, Taxwinkle quickly sued the group for $17 million in lost revenue, exposing her “it’s for our kids’ health” argument as a lie.

Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle

No figures are available, but anecdotal evidence is abundant that Cook County residents in droves have been driving to collar counties and Indiana to purchase pop since collection of the soda tax began. And does anyone think they were only buying soda on these grocery runs? And gee whiz, do you think they noticed that gasoline, and well, a whole lot of other things are cheaper outside Crook County?

Fill ‘er up. Oh, grab a case of beer too! Oh, and buy that stuff as long as we are here. And this stuff too!

Democratic office holders–and not just county ones–heard the sharp message from ordinary citizens: get rid of this tax!

The repeal of the sugary drink tax repeal is a big victory for long suffering Cook County residents such as myself. Cook is heavily Democratic. Hillary Clinton won nearly three-quarters of the vote in last year’s presidential election. Cook County hasn’t had a Republican president of the Cook County Board in nearly five decades, which is when the county’s population peaked.

Yet people in one of America’s bluest counties screamed “Enough” and they pushed back.

But this victory is only partial. The soon-to-be-canned soda tax is only a symptom. Voters need to understand why Taxwinkle needs to spend so much. Pensions for unionized retirees are only part of it. Taxwinkle has been building a massive “free” public-health care network that caters to the jobless and Cook’s burgeoning illegal immigrant community since taking office seven years ago.

Chicago is a sanctuary city and Cook is a sanctuary county. And last month our state’s Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, signed a bill making Illinois a sanctuary state.

These may be the type of governments that Illinois voters want. If it is, then so be it. But prepare to pay dearly for it too.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Cook County resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.