Bills

Chicago’s soda tax helps pay the bills – Opinion

Pop tax helps pay the bills . . .

While there is much outrage about a new county sweetened beverage tax, focusing on the tax itself without considering the larger context of the county’s financial needs is missing the more important point. At our county, city and state levels, we have staggering bills to pay. This is a situation created by our political leaders current and past, some of whom are still in office, many of whom are not.

We elected these officials and encouraged them to vote to provide services to our county without simultaneously identifying appropriate ways to pay for those services. Now those bills are coming due.

I have known Toni Preckwinkle for 30 years and have observed her service previously as an alderwoman and now as Cook County Board president. She has a record of tackling hard issues head-on that other administrations have ignored or kicked down the road. Toni always expects more of herself. She does not seek personal gain, nor has she used her current position as a springboard to something else.

Toni has continued to produce timely annual balanced budgets. She has significantly expanded health services to the underserved residents of the county who have benefited from the introduction of CountyCare, which draws on federal funds and significantly reduces reliance on county taxes.

All of our elected officials should be required to conduct themselves with the same exacting standards that President Preckwinkle demands of herself. No one likes a tax increase, but if we don’t like the soda tax, please suggest one that would be acceptable. We have bills to pay and critical services to provide.

HILL HAMMOCKChair, board of directorsCook County Health & Hospitals System

. . . And is good for our health

I’m a small-business owner in the food and beverage industry, and I wholeheartedly support Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax. While I understand the frustration that some retailers are having with implementing the new tax, overall I feel the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

We have a health care crisis in this country, and the state. Obesity-related diseases, like adult-onset diabetes, cost Illinois billions of dollars annually in health care—ultimately paid by taxpayers and business owners through higher employee health insurance premiums. This tax will incentivize consumers to make healthier drink choices and in the end create a healthier workforce. We business owners should support this tax on its ability to reduce the amount of lost productivity associated with increased employee sick days.

For the consumer, it’s a no-brainer: This is an optional tax. If you don’t want to pay it, just buy healthier drinks. I wish all taxes were this easy to avoid.

DAVID BORRISOwner, Hel’s Kitchen CateringNorthbrook

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