Cook County to lay off 1,100 workers, including hospital employees

Cook County will begin sending out more than 1,100 layoff notices this week after an Illinois appeals court refused to overturn a temporary restraining order blocking the county from implementing a sweetened beverage tax, which is intended to generate funds for the public health system.  

The measure, which would add a $0.01 per ounce tax to sweetened beverages and generate $200 million in annual revenue, was scheduled to take effect July 1. However, the tax was put on hold after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association won a temporary restraining order, which an appellate court upheld on Monday, according to WLS.

With the court challenge expected to drag on for months or years, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said layoffs were necessary. Nearly 90 percent of the county's budget goes toward public health and safety, which means the sheriff's department and county hospitals will be most affected by the cutbacks.

"So if we don't have revenue, we end up laying off doctors, nurses, prosecutors and public defenders and jail guards," Ms. Preckwinkle said, according to the report.

Cook County filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and a hearing on the motion is set for July 21, according to the report.

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