Lawmaker Says Cook County Soda Tax Is A Statewide Concern

Oct 5, 2017

Credit Flickr/Boroda

Downstate Illinoisans should be concerned about Cook County’s controversial sales tax on sweetened beverages, even though they don’t have to pay it, according to State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

Rose has introduced a bill to overturn the penny-per-ounce sales tax that took effect in Cook County last March.

Cook County officials promoted its sweetened beverage tax -- commonly called the soda tax -- as a health measure to discourage high sugar consumption as well as a way to raise revenue.

But Rose says that using taxes to discourage the use of corn syrup could hurt the price of corn, which is the top crop in Illinois.

“This may only be a marginal, negative impact on the overall price of corn,' Rose said, “but, when you’re a county the size of Cook County that will have a direct consumption decrease as a cause of that, there will be negative consequences locally.”

Rose said the Cook County soda tax also could hurt corn syrup production at plants in downstate Decatur run by ADM and Tate and Lyle.

Rose’s Senate Bill 2238 to overturn the Cook County soda tax matches a similar bill filed in the Illinois House in August.

“A number of House Democrats have joined in an effort to repeal that tax”, Rose said of HB4083, filed by Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, “so I’m filing this bill in the Senate just to make sure that, if the House acts and does get something out, that the Senate will have been on notice that we can jump in and try to help undo this.”

House Republicans also have filed  HB 4082, sponsored by Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, to repeal the Cook County soda tax. Both House bills are backed primarily by Chicago-area lawmakers, but Rose says the soda tax’s potential to affect corn prices makes it a statewide concern.