New soda tax hearing scheduled for July 21.
Officials in Cook County, the home of Chicago, have threatened to pass out 1,100 layoff notices since a judge delayed implementation of a soda tax.
Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak placed a temporary hold on the tax until at least July 21. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said this move has forced her hand to fire people.
Maybe Preckwinkle and the county should stop spending? Oh wait. This is Illinois. That’s impossible. Instead, Preckwinkle has decided to target those the public needs the most. From ABC 7:
“So if we don’t have revenue, we end up laying off doctors, nurse, prosecutors and public defenders and jail guards,” Preckwinkle said.
The sheriff’s department was told to make drastic cuts.
“We need you to cut 1,000, basically 1,000 positions from your office of 6,000. And so I don’t know any sane person who would suggest you can really function real well when you lose that many people from your office,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.
That means courthouses will likely close earlier, and policing efforts to help Chicago and suburban communities combat violence will have to be curbed at a time when they need it the most.
Here’s an interesting detail. This soda tax “would add a $0.01 per ounce tax to sodas, iced tea, sport and energy drinks and some fruit juices.” Cook County officials planned to raise $200 million in revenue in fiscal year 2018. Now they have to cut 1,100 jobs.
So that means each job is worth around $200,000 right? ABC 7 reported that public health and safety receives “87 percent of the county budget.” They did not mention if that includes the pensions former employees receive.
When the group Can The tax questioned “about cuts being greater than the amount of revenue lost from not having the tax,” the county fired back that the group is using “alternative math.” That’s not what it looks like to me. Then again, this is Illinois. Officials in that state only know how to spend.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit to block the tax, but Kubasaik postponed the hearing until July 21 after the Cook County Department of Revenue filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Chicago Tribune reported:
“We believe it’s the county’s attempt to both try to bleed us and buy more time to try their PR campaign that the sky is falling,” Rob Karr, merchants association president, said Tuesday.
County spokesman Frank Shuftan wrote in an email Tuesday that the extension was by “mutual agreement” with the association.
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