CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is sticking to her guns on the penny-an-ounce soda tax in the face of relentless opposition, an effort in Springfield to nix the tax and an upcoming vote to repeal.
The politicking on the soda tax has been relentless on both sides, with industry money on one side and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s on the other.
County County Board President Toni Preckwinkle seems unconcerned about the politics of the tax.
“If this job were easy, other people would be doing it,” Preckwinkle laughed.
She says she was elected to do the job and she feels she’s done it well.
“Look I’ve worked hard. I’ve tried to be a good steward of the county government over the last seven years,” Preckwinkle said.
She defends the tax as easier to swallow than hiking other taxes. And said the alternative was massive layoffs.
“It was either layoff doctors and nurses, state’s attorneys, public defenders, jail guards or raise revenue,” she said.
Preckwinkle went on about county expenses – no support for raising property taxes or sale taxes, again. She touted a streamlined county government after hundreds of millions in cuts. And she said, soda is like cigarettes. And said taxing and educating people will, like it did with cigarettes, reduce consumption over time.
“Now we are looking at similar research about sweetened beverages. Apparently, they are terrible for you,” she said.
There’s also an effort in the legislature to kill the tax.
But Preckwinkle said, the legislature should stick to its own business. She said she expects the motion to repeal will be sent to committee to be dealt with.
There has been some research suggesting that political careers could rise or fall on the penny-an-ounce tax.