I’m not a big soda drinker… anymore. When I was a kid, I guzzled the stuff like it was going out of style. And now, it might be. But probably not.
Mayor Nutter is once again pushing a $.02 per ounce tax on all sugary drinks; he proposed the tax last year but it was shot down. The “soda tax,” as it’s come to be known, is Nutter’s plan for dealing with the School District’s $629 million deficit; the soda tax figures to raise $100 million in revenue, which could help prevent some of the 3,400 lay-offs proposed by the School District’s budget.
Beverage distributor unions and business owners alike gathered at City Hall yesterday to protest the tax, which seems to be sputtering within the City Council. The protesters fear that by taxing sugary soft drinks, business and jobs are sure to suffer from it. Mayor Nutter calls their fear “…hysteria generated by not one piece of factual information.”
On the surface, this tax kind of seems like a good idea: our city is plagued with obesity, and soda is certainly one of the dastardly devils behind it. But do we really need to tax the stuff to demonstrate the difference between healthy drinks, like water, and not-so-healthy drinks, like Gatorade and Pepsi? What does that say about us as a city? And why stop at soda? Why not further the crusade against empty calories with taxes on Tasty Kakes, Dollar Dogs and Wiz wit Outs? That’s the sentiment of Harold Honickman, a beverage distributor who favors the soda tax only if it includes all sugary treats.
I’m hardly a political pundit, but even I know there’s a lot of elbow-rubbing going on behind the scenes of this political ploy. An alternative revenue-raising plan to the soda tax is raising property taxes another ten percent, which just happened last year; that kind of tax affects soda drinkers and non-soda drinkers alike. I just think it’s a pretty sad state for our public schools when the Mayor’s essentially digging under couch cushions to foot the ever-growing bill.