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Cook County State's Attorney Warns Of Layoffs After 'Pop Tax' Blocked

By Stephanie Lulay | July 10, 2017 5:38pm | Updated on July 11, 2017 11:46am
 The Cook County State's Attorney's office, headed by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, is preparing for layoffs.
The Cook County State's Attorney's office, headed by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, is preparing for layoffs.
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CHICAGO — With Cook County's sweetened beverage tax now in limbo, layoffs are expected to hit the Cook County State's Attorney's office, officials said Monday. 

In an email to staff, Jennifer Ballard Croft, State's Attorney Kim Foxx's chief of staff, warned of the impending layoffs Monday. An appeal aiming to reverse the temporary block on the tax was denied Monday, and the State's Attorney's office will move forward with reducing office expenditures by $4 million this year, she wrote, which will include layoffs. 

"Regretfully, we will have to proceed with reducing the SAO expenditures at least $4 million this year to offset the $67 million countywide shortfall," Croft wrote. "We have not yet been advised of the impact on the fiscal year 2018 budget, but we anticipate that the County will direct us to further reduce expenditures." 

Staff members affected by the layoffs will be notified by the end of the week, according to the email. 

"Today is a difficult day for us all," Croft wrote. 

On Friday, a Cook County judge blocked Cook County's sweetened beverage tax that had been set to add a penny per ounce to the cost of sweetened bottled drinks starting Saturday.

After announcing the temporary block — which runs at least until the next scheduled hearing in the court case Wednesday — Judge Daniel Kubasiak said the measure raises "significant constitutional issues that deserve significant discussion."

The beverage tax had been projected to bring in about $200 million annually — approximately $17 million a month — to the county that needs the additional fund to keep its budget out of the red.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement that the money anticipated from the tax was "critical" to the county's budget for 2017 and 2018 and the county might need to make "a substantial number of position reductions."

Dubbed the "pop tax," the fee — approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners by one vote last November — also applies to hundreds of beverages beyond soft drinks.

The beverage industry lobby, which opposes the tax, has circulated a sample list of affected drinks, which runs 11 pages. The list includes juice drinks, sports drinks like Gatorade, flavored water with zero calories or sweeteners, iced tea, pop and lemonade.