Morning Spin: Cook County soda tax ‘backlash’ will make other tax hikes hard, ratings agency warns

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The Cook County soda tax backlash and repeal could make it harder for the county, city and Chicago Public Schools to raise taxes or enact new ones, according to one Wall Street debt rating agency.

“The political backlash against the unpopular soda tax highlights the practical limitations on raising taxes, even if a government is legally permitted to do so,” Moody’s Investors Service analysts wrote in a report released Thursday. “This practical limitation is particularly critical for Chicago-area local governments, given the significant revenue needs of Cook County, the city of Chicago, CPS and other entities.”

Moody’s observation came a day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a 2018 city budget that includes a $1.10-per-month increase in the current $3.90 emergency communications fee that’s charged on every land line and cellphone billed to a city address. The mayor’s proposal also includes a phased-in 20-cent increase to the current 52-cent tax on all trips using ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Some aldermen who will be called on to vote on those taxes have said the soda tax repeal was on their minds as they weighed the mayor’s proposal.

“This whole idea of revenue-generating ideas has to stop,” 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas said after Emanuel gave his budget speech. “We have to sit down at a table and talk about cost-cutting ideas.”

The Moody’s analysis noted that after the repeal, the county is looking for ways to plug a resulting $200 million hole in County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s 2018 budget proposal, concluding that budget cuts likely would be the answer.

The analysis also noted that there were “unique issues” surrounding the penny-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages that’s now coming to an end Dec. 1. Those included the much-debated public health benefits of the tax, the hefty cost increases for the drinks and the troubled rollout of the tax.

“While these challenges would not apply to other types of tax increases, any future tax hikes in the wake of the soda tax repeal will likely be met with some political opposition, exacerbating budget pressures for Cook County and other area local governments,” the analysts wrote. (Hal Dardick)


What’s on tap

*Mayor Emanuel has no public events.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will attend a Hispanic state employees conference in Chicago, a community college manufacturing day event in Chicago, an event at the DuPage Children’s Museum, and the opening of the new Apple store at Michigan Avenue along the Chicago River.


From the notebook

*‘Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world’: Email solicitations for political support are frequent, but it’s rare that a candidate invites someone out to go to the movies. Still, that’s the latest missive from Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy.

“Join us for a night at the movies,” the subject line reads in asking people to join Kennedy and wife Sheila for the Chicago premiere of Kennedy sister Rory’s new film, “Take Every Wave,” at 7 p.m. Friday at Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark St.

Rory Kennedy is a filmmaker, and her latest work tracks the life and career of big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton. After the screening, the brother and sister Kennedys will hold a question-and-answer session with the audience. Popcorn is extra. (Rick Pearson)

*On the Sunday Spin: Tribune reporter Rick Pearson will recap the Aurora University forum of Democratic governor candidates. In addition, he will speak with state Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, Melissa Josephs of Women Employed and Wendy Pollack of the Shriver Poverty Law Center on attempts to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of pay-equity legislation. The “Sunday Spin” airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN-720 AM.


What we’re writing

*Senate committee advances Lausch to be next U.S. attorney in Chicago.

*Kennedy assails party leaders with government, elections proposals.

*Illinois Supreme Court rules teen cannot be tried by jury in Endia Martin’s killing.

*U. of I., Army Research Lab will join U. of C. in new Polsky Center tower.

*Illinois unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent in September.


What we’re reading

*Weather Service forecasts mild winter, jinxing it, probably.

*He was the king of late night, but David Letterman doesn’t miss it “for a second.”

*“Hiya, Homer!”: Moe’s Tavern-themed pop-up bar comes to Lincoln Park for Halloween.


Follow the money 

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here


Beyond Chicago

*Trump chief of staff defends call to Army widow.

*Ask Seattle what 50,000 more Amazon workers would mean.

*Trump interviews U.S. attorney candidates for New York.

*CIA director: North Korea months from perfecting nuclear capabilities.

Morning Spin: Cook County soda tax ‘backlash’ will make other tax hikes hard, ratings agency warns

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