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Court Extends Hold For Chicago Soda Tax

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An Illinois appeals court has upheld a temporary restraining order on implementing Cook County's tax on soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. The penny-per-ounce tax was supposed to take effect from July 1.

The temporary hold, issued June 30, could now be in place until at least July 21. This is because Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak is scheduled to hold a postponed hearing on the same date in a lawsuit brought by Illinois Retail Merchants Association or IRMA to block the tax.

IRMA, on behalf of Cook County retailers, filed a temporary restraining order and sought a preliminary injunction in the Cook County Circuit Court on June 27, challenging the sweetened beverage tax. According to IRMA, the tax "violates the uniformity clause of the Illinois Constitution and is impermissibly vague."

Cook County has projected about $67.5 million in revenue from the tax this year and more than $200 million for fiscal year 2018. The county has said that revenue from the tax is critical to both balancing its fiscal 2017 budget and development of its fiscal 2018 budget.

However, Cook County warned on Monday that it would have to reduce its budget by 10 percent if the tax was not in place by August, saying that nearly 1,100 layoffs were inevitable.

"87 percent of our budget is public health and public safety. So if we don't have revenue, we end up laying off doctors and nurses, prosecutors and public defenders and jail guards, because that's where our money goes," County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

by RTT Staff Writer

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