Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

May 8, 2014

Proposed beverage tax faces foes

EFFINGHAM — Opposition is mounting to legislative efforts that would impose a tax on sweetened beverages throughout Illinois.

Steve Houston, a spokesman for opponents of the proposed Sweetened Beverage Tax, said the proposed penny-per-ounce tax would be bad for businesses that rely on the sale of sweetened beverages for much of their income.

"Throughout Illinois, the regressive tax would depress sales and impact any business that sells beverages, such as mom-and-pop convenience stores, diners, grocers, movie theaters and concession stands at community events," Houston said.

Ironically, State Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, introduced the proposed legislation this past Valentine's Day, a time of year when sweets are in high demand. The "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Syrups and Powder Tax Law" would impose a one-cent-per-ounce tax on distributors of bottled sweetened beverages, syrups and powders. A provision of the law would enable distributors to pass that tax onto retailers, who would then pass it onto consumers.

Hunter said in a prepared statement that her initiative is a two-part plan that would raise an estimated $600 million per year.

"Half of the dollars would be used for prevention programs, health care initiatives and community projects, like promoting nutrition and providing better meals in schools," the senator said. "The other half would generate dollars to lessen the burden of medical costs on the state, provide funding for dental care and help restore some of the devastating cuts to Medicaid."

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, introduced similar legislation in the Illinois House earlier this year.

The Hunter bill has been stalled in the Assignments Committee since March 28. Committee member Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the bill is nothing more than another way for Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative Democrats to raise money for government operations.

"These guys are desperate for cash," Righter said. "This isn't about health. It's about money and spending.

"I'm not for higher taxes to raise more money for government."

Righter said Quinn and other Democrats do not have a good track record when it comes to managing public dollars.

"When we get new money, Quinn and the Democratic (legislative) leadership have proven they can't manage it," he said.

While Righter admits a straight party-line vote would enable the bill to easily pass, he hopes to enlist the support of downstate Democrats to kill the legislation.

"The question for me is whether we can convince downstate Democrats that their constituents are tired of finding new ways for government to get into their pockets," he said.

The Democrats hold commanding majorities in both houses of the General Assembly; 40-19 in the Senate, and 71-47 in the House.

Houston claims the law would impact a beverage industry that employs 114,126 people at 55 soft drink bottling and distribution facilities in Illinois.

"Together, these companies pay $6.2 billion in annual wages with an economic impact of more than $21 billion," he said.

At least one local store owner takes a dim view of the proposed legislation. Chitu Patel of A-1 Convenience Store in Effingham fears the tax would put some folks out of business.

"The government doesn't want the small business guy to run a business," Patel said. "This decision would kill small businesses."

More information on opposition to the proposed tax is available at www.noilbeveragetax.com.

Bill Grimes may be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com, or via Twitter @EDNBGrimes.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • McCarter.jpg Some lawmakers donate pay

    Illinois lawmakers restoring their pay after years of furlough days has prompted some state representatives to give back to their communities — a move some local lawmakers call a political one.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Distance learning catching on in area

    In what appears to be a growing trend among rural school districts, a third area school district may join an existing academic cooperative.

    July 27, 2014

  • Joshua Robison.jpg Opinion: God doesn't care about party affiliation

    Reflecting on what we politely refer to in this country as “political discourse,” I am often struck by how convinced many people seem to be that their sides' specific policies and personalities are the only way to save us all from utter ruin.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ron W.jpg Opinion: Column break just that -- a break

    ‘Hey, Ron. You didn’t have a column this week. What’s the deal? It’s the reason I buy a paper on Thursdays.”

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Isom.jpg Opinion: It's about time

    Finally, someone else speaks up and it’s about time.
    I applaud Ron Worman and welcome him to take a seat on my bandwagon. His addressing the proliferation of signs of every description, virtually everywhere one looks, is a welcome additional voice — even though rare.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Feds: Effingham County was meeting place for underage sex tryst

    An Ohio man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he traveled out of state to meet an underage person in Effingham County for sexual activity.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jail inmate attempts suicide

    An unscheduled cell check is credited for saving the life of an Effingham County Jail inmate who tried to hang himself early Thursday morning.

    July 25, 2014

  • Woman injured in Farina collision

    An accident on Washington Street sent one driver to the hospital Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Driver crashes after being forced off road

    A driver crashed after being run off the road by a semi on Interstate 70.

    July 25, 2014

  • Rollover on I-70 sends one to hospital

    An accident on Interstate-70 sent one traveler to the hospital.

    July 25, 2014

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.