Preckwinkle Mum On Whether 2018 Budget Plan Includes Soda Tax

CHICAGO (CBS) — Amid an effort to repeal the controversial sweetened beverage tax, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle refused to say Wednesday whether the budget plan she’ll unveil on Thursday relies on revenue from the tax.

Preckwinkle would not say if she has prepared two budget proposals – one including the soda tax, and one without it.

“You’ll have to wait till my budget address. It’ll be available to you at 10 o’clock in the morning, and I’ll give my address at 11,” she said.

However, Preckwinkle was very clear the county would need to make major cuts to health care and public safety programs if revenue from the sweetened beverage tax is lost.

“Our chief financial officer issued to every commissioner last Friday a fiscal note on the loss of revenue,” she said. “I think it’s $11 million to the end of this fiscal year, and it’s something like $200 million in every successive year.”

Commissioner Richard Boykin has introduced a proposal to repeal the penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks. The county’s Finance Committee was scheduled to debate the measure on Oct. 10, after Boykin failed to get enough support for an immediate vote at last month’s board meeting.

The board was split 8-8 over the tax last year, and Preckwinkle cast the tie-breaking vote to pass it. The tax went into effect in August, after it was delayed by a month due to an attempt to block it in court.

Boykin has proposed a plan to make up for the lost revenue largely through spending cuts – such as a hiring freeze, closing vacant positions, and holding the line on salary increases.

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