The push to repeal Cook County’s controversial sweetened beverage tax may have picked up a powerful new ally in House Speaker Mike Madigan, as he is purportedly considering legislation to undo it.
NBC 5 has learned of clash between Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Madigan. If the county commissioners do not repeal it when they vote on the measure Oct. 10, Madigan is signaling that he favors the state preempting the county and passing legislation to take the soda tax off of the books.
Preckwinkle has made it clear during the furor over the tax that she does not want the state interfering with the county’s decisions on whether or not to implement such a bill. "If I were them, I'd stick to theirs (and) I'll stick to mine," she said earlier this month.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin released a statement on the tax Friday, calling the bill “bad politics” and urging his colleagues to rescind it.
"It was bad policy from the beginning and it's also bad politics, and you know the two will create a donnybrook where Democrats will lose races that they ordinarily would win," he said.
Boykin -- who was in Washington, D.C. Friday, revealed that he plans to announce next week whether he will run against Preckwinkle for board president.
"My pledge to the people of Cook County is that we're going to live within our means," he said.
With fire coming from both sides of the aisle to repeal the tax, Preckwinkle may be feeling similar pressure to what former Cook County President Todd Stroger felt when he instituted an unpopular sales tax increase in the county.
"The biggest problem about the beverage tax is it's not about sugar," he said.
Stroger certainly understands the burden of budgeting, as his hike in the sales tax while he was Cook County board president in all likelihood led to his eventual defeat. Does he think that Preckwinkle could encounter a similar fate?
"I think the (opposition to the) sugar tax has some real legs and polls that I know of show that people are so against this,” he said. “Her unfavorables are very high and it's hard to win when people won't vote for you.”
When the political pressure to repeal the tax is added to the potential loss of seats, some experts are starting to believe that the tax will be repealed next month.