SPRINGFIELD - Having declared to reporters that he did not have the votes within his own caucus to make the 2011 temporary income tax hike permanent, House Speaker Mike Madigan re-popped the lid on a per ounce soda tax this week that appeared dead earlier in the session.
But the Democrat- controlled House Revenue & Finance Committee caused the idea to fizzle Tuesday, as only two of its ten members that agreed with the idea.
Madigan urged State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Chicago) to try to pass the "HEAL Act," which would charge consumers a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. The legislation included key set asides for its estimated $600 million in revenues to fund efforts to reduce obesity and promote healthy eating and physical activity.
The tax would be 8 cents for an 8 oz can, 12 cents for a 12 oz bottle, and so on - one cent per ounce. Diet pop would be exempted - only those drinks with sugar would be taxed.
"We are excited that the legislature has decided to consider the HEAL Act in this year's session," said Elissa Bassler, Executive Director of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, which is leading the charge to pass the HEAL Act. "The great thing about this bill is that it sets aside money for a wellness fund. The bill includes provisions to fund school and community health programs such as physical education, community gardens, farmers' markets, and health care for low-income residents. This isn't just another tax or a push for more revenue in a strapped budget - there are lots of revenue sources on the table. This is as an investment in building a better and healthier Illinois."
Taxing soda per ounce may need to wait for a non-election year.