|Toni the Taxer|
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, chief architect of the soda pop tax, on Tuesday backed off her plot to punish the Illinois Retail Merchants Association for challenging the tax. The retailers group had sued the county, claiming the tax was unconstitutionally arbitrary, and won a monthlong delay on its implementation.
Preckwinkle instructed county lawyers to go after the group for what she estimated was $17 million in lost revenue. After intense criticism, she changed her mind.
It's good Preckwinkle backed down. But did she really get the message? If so, she'll abolish the tax completely.
Some board members are pressing the subject. Commissioner Sean Morrison, R-17th, filed an ordinance this week to get rid of the tax. Four others — Richard Boykin, D-1st; John Fritchey, D-12th; Timothy Schneider, R-15th; and Jeffrey Tobolski, D-16th — are co-sponsors. All five voted against the tax last November.
Others ought to think hard about joining them. Perhaps the backlash, or those poll numbers, have their attention. The board is scheduled to take up the repeal ordinance Sept. 13.
Madam President, listen to your constituents. They don't want the soda tax. They're speaking to you. Pay attention. Gather up your finance wizards and find a way to roll back the tax and reduce county spending instead. Cut personnel. Consolidate departments. Limit services to the essentials. Stand firm against unaffordable pay and benefit packages of your unionized workforce.