The Chicago-area’s penny-per-ounce tax on soda and sweetened drinks was repealed Wednesday after a monthslong conflict that included a court battle and millions of dollars’ worth of television ads on both sides.
The tax prompted lawsuits, a warning from a federal agency that Illinois could lose millions in funding for food stamp benefits and complaints of plummeting sales from store owners. But among its supporters were health advocates such as billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose super PAC ran more than $2 million worth of ads defending the tax as a way to fight obesity and other health conditions.
Some retailers opposed to the tax posted signs in the soda aisle telling customers they will pay $1.44 more on each 12-pack of soda because of the tax, and urging them to tell their county commissioner to repeal it. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which unsuccessfully sued to try to stop the tax, called the repeal “great news for consumers and retailers.”
Commissioners will have to decide how they will fill an approximate $200 million budget hole that the tax would have satisfied. They have until Nov. 30 to approve a budget.