Preckwinkle Urges Commissioners To Keep Sweetened Beverage Tax Days Ahead Of Repeal Vote

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle put commissioners on notice that a vote to repeal the controversial soda tax will mean cuts to vital services.

Preckwinkle unveiled her plan for the budget, based on having the estimated $200-million from the soda tax. She told commissioners they have reached a moment of truth ahead of Tuesday’s vote. WBBM’s Nancy Harty reports.

“In this moment we will decide together who we are and where we are going,” Preckwinkle said.

“There’s no longer space to rail against the tax, but secretly hope your colleagues absorb the political heat for you because you know we need this revenue,” Preckwinkle said.

Afterwards Commissioner John Fritchey did not appear to be moved by Preckwinkle’s argument that without the tax, the county must cut healthcare, gun violence prevention and other programs.

“I think that we may have to make difficult choices and that’s part of governing,” Fritchey said. “It’s easy to be an elected official when everything is good.”

Before her speech, members of the public weighed in including Mike Newman, deputy director of Ask Me Council 31.

“Repealing this tax without a viable, genuine alternative is morally bankrupt,” he said.

That prompted an exchanged with tax opponent and sceptic, Commissioner Richard Boykin.

“You received 130 layoff notices after the TRO was instituted. How many of your employees actually lost their job?” Boykin said.

“None of our members have been actually – hit the street,” Newman said.

Some commissioners question Preckwinkle’s dire predictions of up to 300 layoffs if they vote to repeal the tax.

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