A potential tax that would tax one penny on every ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages in Illinois has been voted down in Illinois. A panel of House of Representative lawmakers voted the soda pop proposal down with the assertion that the proposal – if passed – would have added another $2.88 to a consumer’s costs when purchasing a case of pop, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Tuesday. Many found the proposal to be asinine from its inception.
Yet, two members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee in the state’s capital – Springfield – voted in favor of the bill. Seven other members of the committee voted against it. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Robyn Gabel, a Democrat from Evanston which the suburb directly north of Chicago’s border.
Gabel claimed that the tax would generate up to $600 million annually. Of course, Illinois is financially strapped for cash and the new dollars would have been welcome in that way. Gabel also wanted the huge tax to deter persons from purchasing sugar-sweetened drinks as she says they are unhealthy and linked to diabetes and obesity.
Rep. John Bradley of Marion chaired the panel. He said that the soda tax is a middle-class regressive tax and it really hurts working people. Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights had concerns about the disparity such a tax would have between a sugar-added drink such as Coca-Cola and a soft drink without sugar.
While Rep. Gabel said taxing the sugar drinks would dissuade persons from drinking them and thereby save the general public and the state of Illinois from paying higher health care costs, people in the soda business fought back. According to the Sun-Times, Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers Association stated that this bill would cause job losses as less pop would be sold throughout the state. He also said that persons living along the Illinois border would simply drive to neighboring states to buy their preferred sodas. An official with the Teamsters also testified before the panel and said that this horrendous bill would cost Illinois jobs.