On Oct. 11, the Cook County (Ill.) Board of Commissioners voted, 15-2, to repeal the county's unfair, excessive, and overreaching penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax. To make the repeal possible, seven commissioners who had previously supported the tax changed their votes after hearing the outrage from angry residents in their districts.
Polls had shown that more than 85 percent of county residents opposed the tax and supported its repeal. In fact, opposition was so strong that nearly 79 percent of residents said they would be less likely to reelect a commissioner who voted for the beverage tax. As you can imagine, commissioners who supported the repeal have been near-universally celebrated.
The repeal of Cook County's beverage tax targeting working families and small businesses was the sixth time since the beginning of 2017 that elected officials or voters rejected a beverage tax in the United States. Two other cities in Washington initially considered a beverage tax but abandoned the effort after businesses and residents expressed overwhelming opposition. Clearly, there is growing opposition to beverage taxes in the United States, and elected officials are taking notice.
There are many similarities between Cook County and Philadelphia when it comes to the impact of the beverage tax.
Do these things sound familiar? They should.
In Cook County, we're grateful our elected officials changed their minds. They rejected more than $13 million in false and misleading advertisements from New York City billionaire Michael Bloomberg and chose to stand with county residents, restaurants, and retailers in support of repeal. They also saw the pain the tax has caused in Philadelphia and chose to protect Cook County citizens and businesses from similar damage to jobs, sales, and family budgets before it was too late.
Cook County's beverage tax will end on Dec. 1, and we already are anticipating the return of residents and consumers to stores and restaurants.
Retailers, restaurants, and residents have seen in Cook County and Philadelphia that beverage taxes don't work. They harm families and local businesses and economies — and do not change what people drink, just where they buy the product.
Similar to Philadelphia, Cook County is made up of blue-collar, working-class families. They were tired of being nickel and dimed and having to balance the county's budget on their backs. We stood up and our elected officials listened. We know Philadelphia residents, retailers, restaurants, and businesses are doing the same — and hope their elected officials, too, will soon listen and repeal Philadelphia's devastating beverage tax.