Opponents Of The Beverage Tax Say Threat Of Layoffs Is Just Politics

CHICAGO (CBS) – The food and beverage industry says the Cook County Board President’s threat of massive layoffs should the Sweetened Beverage Tax be tossed out by a judge is just politics.

“It is time to can the tax!”

The Can the Tax Coalition funded by the American Beverage Association, made up of food and beverage retailers and members of the vending industry, gathered Thursday at Leamington Foods in the North Lawndale neighborhood to call for the beverage tax to be repealed.

“Cook County Board President is talking about a 10 percent cut in the budget. That’s around $358 million, and yet the revenue they were projecting for this beverage tax is $260 million – doesn’t even come close,” said Brian Jordan, president of the Illinois Food Retailers Association.

beverage tax visual Opponents Of The Beverage Tax Say Threat Of Layoffs Is Just Politics

Beverage Tax chart (Credit: Can the Tax Coalition)

They say the tax would hurt small businesses and consumers, and would just force people to shop elsewhere.

“I believe it is just a scare tactic,” Jordan said. “When you have a budget cut that exceeds dramatically the amount of revenue that was projected, it makes absolutely no sense at all.”

It was noted that when the tax was imposed in Philadelphia food and beverage retailers saw business decline by as much as 40 percent as people shopped elsewhere.

In anticipation of the tax being enacted on July 1, retailers in collar counties and Indiana have already attempted to cash in, with advertisements saying “No County Beverage Tax.”

The tax remains on hold, after a judge said a fair question exists as to the constitutionality.

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