Preckwinkle’s tax mess: Layoffs won’t rally public support for her latest revenue grab

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is frustrated. She can’t implement the new tax on soda and other sweetened beverages that the board approved last November. The tax is on hold due to a last-minute court challenge, sinking Preckwinkle’s budgets — this year’s and the one she’s drafting for 2018 — into the red.

After warning that a delay in the scheduled July 1 launch of her soda tax would mean layoffs, on Friday she announced pink slips for some 300 county workers and the closing of another 600 vacant positions. She said more job cuts are expected, all because the Illinois Retail Merchants Association is fighting the soda tax in court and has won the first round.

In other words, Preckwinkle blames the retailers’ association for the loss of county jobs.

No, no, no. The retail group is leading the charge in court, but anti-tax rebellion is a trend Illinois politicians should be noticing by now. Five years ago, a soda tax might not have provoked an insurgency. Today is different.

Taxpayers, particularly in Chicago and Cook County, are sick and tired of being nickeled-and-dimed. And they’re not dumb. They know the soda tax is only the latest string of spaghetti Preckwinkle tossed at the wall to see if it would stick.

It joins the pasta bowl of amusement tax hikes, most of which got dropped in favor of a hotel tax hike in 2016, which followed a sales tax hike in 2015. Remember how Preckwinkle got elected in 2010 on a pledge to eliminate then board President Todd Stroger‘s 1-percentage-point hike in the sales tax, only to reinstate it?

That’s classic Cook County. Chicagoans see their property taxes on the rise (don’t forget, your payment is due this month). They notice higher water bills, emergency service tax hikes, parking taxes, cable taxes, you name it.

Oh, and the state legislature just passed a 32-percent increase in the personal income tax.

The Democratic politicians who run…

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