CHICAGO (CBS) — The most controversial issue at the moment in Cook County politics is not even something on which you can vote Tuesday.
It’s the tax on soda and other artificially and naturally-sweetened drinks proposed as part of the county’s 2017 budget. WBBM’s Bob Roberts reports.
Opponents call it a hardship on families and the businesses that sell soda pop, but County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she needs the $223.8 million a year the penny-an-ounce tax would raise.
The board could vote on it in the coming week. If implemented, it would take effect July 1.
Both sides have spent liberally on election-style ads, even though the decision is up to the board and not to the voters. Opponents said they will take their business elsewhere if it is levied. But the American Heart Association’s Mark Peysakhovich doubts it and cites numerous battles over cigarette taxes here and elsewhere saying the threats “have never really materialized.”
Supporters and opponents have both had their say at budget hearings. This weekend, students belonging to the Teen Health Council of the Mikva Challenge, which encourages civic engagement by teens, are handing out reusable filtered water bottles downtown.
Sharon Alvarado is among the Mikva Challenge teens. She said she gave up soda two years ago, but says other teens cite a series of excuses for continuing to drink it, not the least of which is the recent lead contamination scare.
Peysakhovich, who calls soda pop “diabetes in a can,” said it’s an “uphill battle.” He said soda pop manufacturers are also in the bottled water business.