A new law in Illinois’ Cook County that increases taxes on sweetened beverages went into effect just a couple of weeks ago and already there are efforts underway to have it repealed. There is the usual mutual mudslinging taking place between Republicans and Democrats over this issue of course… the left claiming the revenue will fund wellness programs and the right claiming it puts an undue burden on citizens.
What the article doesn’t mention is that Cook County is the second largest county in the country, with a population larger than 29 American states. The scale of revenue a tax like would generate is incredible and should not be understated. Further, a Republican in the State House suggested that the tax would essentially make a soda more expensive than a beer… and that it sends and incredibly bad message about where our priorities should be.
It’s also really bad for business:
CHICAGO — Calling Cook County’s new sweetened beverage tax an “unfair burden” on residents and businesses, four House Republicans have introduced a bill to repeal it.They point to some small businesses that have already reported a sales drop of 80 percent because people have either stopped buying the drinks or are going out of Cook County to get them.
It is not a stretch to suggest that taxes drive human behavior, and when governments start driving people to cross county lines to save money these governments have clearly lost their priorities.
Or perhaps they are cynical enough to recognize the increased tax revenue opportunities that will come from the gasoline taxes people have to pay to leave town to buy their soda.[Images courtesy of WGAN TV & Chicago Magazine ]