Soda Tax Opponents Expect Repeal Vote Can Pass, But Veto Likely

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County commissioner who voted against the controversial sweetened beverage tax predicted his fellow opponents have the votes to approve a plan to repeal it, but it’s not clear if the vote could survive a near-certain veto by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Commissioner John Fritchey has co-sponsored an effort to repeal the tax, and he said he expects there are at least nine commissioners on board with the plan.

“I am cautiously optimistic. If I was a betting man, I’d think that we have the votes to repeal the tax, but before anybody gets too excited about that, I would fully expect – at this point, at least – a veto of the repeal by the board president, and then we’ll see if the votes to override that veto,” he said.

A vote on Commissioner Richard Boykin’s plan to repeal the tax has been scheduled for Tuesday in the county board’s Finance Committee. Nine votes would be needed to approve the plan, but Preckwinkle likely would veto that vote, and opponents would need at least 11 votes to override.

Opponents and supporters of the tax both have spent millions of dollars on ads that have saturated radio and TV before the vote.

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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