Cook County

Preckwinkle to Unveil County Budget Ahead of Beverage Tax Repeal Vote

Cook County's controversial sweetened beverage tax is headed for a showdown next week - but before that, Board President Toni Preckwinkle will release next year's budget on Thursday.

She's often spoken of the health benefits for those who drink fewer sugary drinks. But on Wednesday, she made it clear that the tax fills a budget hole and without it, cuts would be necessary.

"The tax is about revenue," Preckwinkle said, not wavering on the penny-per-ounce charge. "I've made it quite clear that we enacted this tax because we needed the revenue and we also saw ancillary health benefits," she continued.

Lobbying group Can the Tax continues to apply pressure to three undecided commissioners who may vote for the repeal.

A spokesman for Commissioner John Daley - one of those undecided - said Wednesday that he is considering all of his options.

It's possible that their votes may influence voters - and even inspire challengers. Former Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti's name is being floated as a possible challenger to Preckwinkle.

Commissioner Richard Boykin ruled it out last week - but where does that leave Preckwinkle?

"You should ask Richard Boykin about why he makes the choices he makes," she said at a news conference Wednesday.

The potential repeal vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

While Preckwinkle said she's hopeful it will not be repealed, she did not say whether she would veto it if it passed.

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