CHICAGO—The No Cook County Beverage Tax Coalition was joined by beverage industry employees, business organizations, small business owners and hundreds of other supporters at the Cook County building to rally in opposition to the Cook County board’s proposed regressive beverage tax, which proposes a new, penny-per-ounce tax on common beverages families purchase in the grocery store like sports drinks, teas, lemonades, sodas, and juice drinks. The proposed regressive tax would cost Cook County residents, raising the prices on hundreds of common grocery store items for working families and destroying local jobs.
“There are 2,200 Teamsters employed in Cook County whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly dependent upon the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Additionally, there are thousands of small business owners and their hardworking employees who could face layoffs should the county raise another tax,” said John T. Coli, president of Teamsters Joint Council 25 and chairman of the Illinois Coalition Against Beverage Taxes. “Our union stands strongly opposed to beverage taxes.”
A $.01 per ounce tax would increase the cost of a $.99 2-liter bottle by $.68, a nearly 70% increase. A 12-pack would be increased in cost by $1.44.
Beyond the regressive nature of the proposal, it could severely hurt local economic growth and job creation. The non-alcoholic beverage industry has a significant impact on the Illinois economy, providing more than 9,475 high-paying jobs, $819.5 million in wages and $1.5 billion in state and federal taxes every year, creating a direct economic impact of $6.2 billion.
“Cook County small businesses are once again starting to thrive after experiencing one of the worst economic downturns in our nation’s history. The last thing we need is to implement regressive policies that will slow growth, drive business out of the city and force businesses to raise prices where it hurts the most: in Cook County families’ wallets,” said Tanya Triche, legal counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and coalition member.
The No Cook County Beverage Tax Coalition is asking County Commissioners to stand up for Cook County families and businesses by opposing the new discriminatory tax.
“Time and time again we have heard from our members that an additional tax on beverages would be devastating for grocery stores, restaurants, and residents who are employed by the beverage industry in Cook County,” said Claudia Rodriguez, Acting Executive Director of the Illinois Beverage Association.
Other business sectors and their employees benefit from the industry. Nearly 90,000 jobs in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters and more rely on the industry – all of which could be hurt by a proposed tax.
“The non-alcoholic beverage industry is vital to the economic growth and prosperity of Pilsen,” said Alex Esparza, Executive Director of the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation. “Let’s stand for Pilsen, and neighborhoods like it all across Cook County, by saying no to another beverage tax.”
In the last year alone, Cook County families and businesses have faced massive property taxes for local schools and municipal governments, seen their sales tax rise to the highest in the nation, and been hit with new garbage and sewer tax proposals. Small businesses are also adjusting to new increases in the minimum wage and new paid leave requirements for employees.
The No Cook County Beverage Tax Coalition is a group of concerned citizens, families, businesses and community organizations who want to send a strong message to our elected officials that we reject any discriminatory tax proposals on common grocery items like beverages. For more information, please visit: www.NoCookCountyBeverageTax.com