Cook County Board commissioners are expected to repeal the unpopular penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax this week by a near-unanimous margin, a process that begins with a key finance committee vote on Tuesday.
After Republican Commissioner Sean Morrison of Palos Park said Friday he had secured the 11 votes to repeal the tax and override a veto, several more Democratic commissioners have agreed to back the effort.
Morrison is now joined by fellow Republicans Tim Schneider of Bartlett, Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park and Gregg Goslin of Glenview as well as Democrats Richard Boykin, John Fritchey, Bridget Gainer, Jesus Garcia, Stanley Moore, Dennis Deer and John Daley, all of Chicago, and Jeffrey Tobolski of McCook. While they have not yet commented publicly, commissioners Luis Arroyo, Jr. of Chicago and Ed Moody of Chicago Ridge are expected to support a repeal. The other three Democratic commissioners -- Democrat Larry Suffredin of Evanston and Jerry Butler and Deborah Sims of Chicago -- appear to be firmly opposed to a repeal.
It's a vote that has political implications for all 17 commissioners as well as County Board President Toni Preckwinkle of Chicago, who is up for re-election next fall. It was the defection last week of Daley, originally a supporter of the tax, that was the first domino to fall, with other repeal votes following after.
The tax was expected to raise $200 million a year. It has brought in $16 million to the county so far, Frank Shuftan, Preckwinkle's spokesman, said.
A news release from Morrison's office says the tax, even if repealed, would run through Nov. 30, "to close out the final seven weeks" of the county's fiscal year.
Preckwinkle, who presented a $5.4 billion budget proposal to commissioners last week, has said ending the tax would prompt 11 percent cuts to health and public safety.
Shuftan said Preckwinkle is not scheduled to attend the finance committee meeting Tuesday and does not intend to comment on the issue until after the full county board meeting Wednesday.