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Chicago, IL – State Reps. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), Christine Winger (R-Bloomingdale), Peter Breen (R-Lombard), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville), and Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) today introduced legislation, House Bill 4082, to immediately repeal the one-cent-per-ounce Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax. The tax, which went into effect on August 2, will result in Cook County consumers having to pay on average 67 percent more for a 2-liter of pop, 43 percent more for a gallon of juice drink or sweetened iced tea, and 29 percent more for a 12-pack.

“This pop tax is a repeated example of another financial burden being imposed upon the people of Cook County. The vetting of this measure was short-sighted and irresponsible as roll-outs of similar pop taxes in other cities have proven to be not effective and even harmful to the local economy,” stated Rep. McAuliffe. “I spent this past weekend in my district and the feedback against this tax was overwhelmingly negative. The taxpayers are understandably frustrated and there is a lot of confusion.”

“Longstanding small businesses that have been pivotal in the community are going to suffer, especially when residents can walk less than a mile to a different store in a county that isn’t affected by the tax to buy their goods,” said Rep. Winger. “Residents will choose a different store over one they have gone to for years to avoid paying this. I have heard first-hand the severity this tax has already had in its first two weeks.  Some say sales have already dropped 80% on certain products.”

Specifically, House Bill 4082 would prevent any home rule county from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold. It applies to any county ordinance adopted on or before the effective date of the bill, repealing the existing Cook County ordinance.

"On the heels of being hit with a 32% income tax hike, the residents of Cook County were immediately saddled with a costly tax on sweetened beverages,” said Rep. Breen. “It's time for government to live within its means and quit turning to taxpayers for more of their hard-earned money. Through this legislation, the Cook County beverage tax will be repealed, and a law will be in place to prohibit any similar taxes in other Illinois counties."

“Democrats not only want you to keep ‘drinking the Koolaid’, they want you to pay more for the privilege,” said Rep. Wehrli. “This tax hits families directly in their wallets.  It could also cost us some of the thousands of good jobs the soft drink industry provides Illinois families. It’s no surprise that nearly 87% of Cook County residents oppose this tax, and we stand with them.”

The City of Philadelphia recently enacted a similar, 1.5-cent-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages to pay for universal preschool. Following the implementation of the tax, beverage sales fell by as much as 50 percent and more than 400 jobs were lost. Additionally, actual beverage tax collections for the first six months are $6.9 million below the city’s estimate of $46.2 million.

The impact on Cook County is expected to be even more devastating. An economic analysis in 2016 found that the beverage tax, which Cook County estimates to provide $67.5 million in new revenue in 2017 and $200.6 million in 2018, could result in a loss of 6,100 jobs, $321 million in lost wages and $1.3 billion in lost economic activity. There have already been a number of complaints and lawsuits as retailers struggle to comply with the implementation of the tax.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently notified Cook County that portions of the tax were illegal and that the state could stand to lose more than $86 million in federal funding if the problems are not resolved.

Additionally, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission has voiced its concerns with Cook County as well, stating that the new tax “may lead to practices that violate the Illinois Liquor Control Act.”
LISLE – State Representatives Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) and Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) along with State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) will host a Town Hall Meeting on the status of the controversial education funding reform bill, Senate Bill 1, and what is at stake for local taxpayers and school districts at 9:30am on Saturday, August 12 at Benedictine University’s Goodwin Business Building's Hall of Leaders (4th Floor), located at 5700 College Road in Lisle. 

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to return to session in Springfield as early as August 14 to deliberate upon the Governor’s partial veto of Senate Bill 1. 
“Republicans agree that this legislation is historic and important – and that’s why we have to make sure we get it right,” said Representative Wehrli. “We have been very clear about our concerns on this legislation from the moment it was amended and passed in the legislature on May 31. There is no more time to lose.  Democrats have played politics with this bill all summer. Suburban parents and taxpayers need to know how this will affect us before moving forward.”
State Rep. Grant Wehrli on Monday released the following statement in response to Sen. Andy Manar’s comments on the status of Senate Bill 1:

“Instead of telling the governor what he should and should not be doing, perhaps Senator Manar should heed his own advice and work with his colleagues in the General Assembly. I repeatedly reached out to Senator Manar throughout the spring session to ask if he would meet with me to discuss Senate Bill 1 and specifically what changes needed to be made to make it work for suburban school districts instead of just the City of Chicago. You would think that for someone so interested in ‘building bridges’ he would have been amenable to a meeting. Instead, my requests via at least three phone calls to his district office, and an in-person request in the capitol, went unanswered.  
“Republicans agree that this legislation is historic and important – and that’s why we have to make sure we get it right. We have been very clear about our concerns on this legislation from the moment it was amended and passed in the legislature on May 31, so to claim now that he was unaware of Republicans' ‘alleged problems’ with the bill is predictable, disingenuous and reeks of political pandering. At this point, I would encourage Senator Manar to ask Senator Trotter to remove the brick from Senate Bill 1 so it can be sent to the governor,  he can make his revisions and send it back to us, and we can then move the process forward.”

                                                               -State Representative Grant Wehrli, 41st District
Illinois families are struggling under the second-highest property tax burden in the country with collar-county families being hardest hit. State Representative Grant Wehrli this week reiterated his insistence that real, meaningful property tax reform must be included in a balanced state budget compromise.

Legislation to close a costly public pension double-dipping loophole in Illinois cleared its final legislative hurdle Monday and will soon head to the Governor for his signature. House Bill 418 was guided through the General Assembly by Representative Grant Wehrli and Senator Michael Connelly. The measure will prevent retired law enforcement officers collecting a police pension, who accept a new active-duty position, from being eligible for a second police fund pension.
“The loophole in current law that allows double-dipping into the police pension systems is costing municipalities and local taxpayers a fortune.  Retired law enforcement officers have earned their pensions, but they should not be entitled to multiple pensions that we can’t afford,” said Rep. Wehrli (R-Naperville).
“This is common sense legislation, and it’s time this costly loophole in the state’s pension system is resolved,” said Sen. Connelly (R-Naperville).