The county board's president, Toni Preckwinkle, had vigorously defended the penny-per-ounce tax, which had been forecast to raise $200 million annually, on both public-health and fiscal grounds, backed by an advertising push from Michael Bloomberg, the former NY mayor.
Chicago and many suburban areas - board committee voted 15-2 to repeal the tax, which charged individuals a penny per ounce of pop.
Healthy Food America's executive director Dr. Jim Krieger said that Cook County's success in repealing the sweetened beverage tax was unique to state's tax legislation; and that it would not stop the momentum of other taxes that have taken effect across the USA, including Philadelphia and Seattle earlier this year. The tax went into effect on August 2, and has faced public backlash fueled by a repeal campaign funded by the American Beverage Association.
The committee took the first step to repeal the ill-favored sweetened beverage tax on Tuesday and is expected to finalize the vote tomorrow.
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As for how she misread pop tax opposition so badly, she said, "We're in a very hard time in this country politically". "Today's events also underscore the fact that the beverage industry, with its virtually unlimited financial resources, will stop at nothing to halt or overturn beverage taxes that threaten its profits and its ability to market sugar-sweetened drinks to the communities it claims to care about".
The Chicago Tribune reported that the American Beverage Association and store owners spent millions pushing for repeal, while soda tax crusader Michael Bloomberg backed an even more expensive ad campaign to preserve the tax. Preckwinkle has said there could be an 11 percent budget cut resulting in layoffs with repeal of the tax.
After Wednesday's vote, Preckwinkle indicated she wouldn't be taking the lead in adjusting the county's finances.