By Alex Lloyd Gross
Time will tell if stores will close and people will be out of work as Philadelphia City Council voted to amend the tax on sugar drinks with a 1.5 cent tax per ounce. This extra cash is supposed to go to fund kindergarten. It is the only such tax in the United States except for Berkley California. The original bill proposed by Mayor Kenney called for a three cent per ounce tax but neither side won a true victory.
The teachers union is happy but the grocery union is not. The bottom line is very simple. People are going to travel to buy their groceries to avoid paying the extra tax. Sure, soda will still be sold and people will buy it in the city limits, just not in the quantity that they did prior to the tax being approved. They will go elsewhere. Entrepreneurs that buy soda outside the city and sell it inside might wind up arrested. That means they just got a criminal record for selling a legal product.
The tax on a two liter bottle should be about a dollar. The citizens of Philadelphia will decide who if their councilperson should remain employed come the next election. if they voted for this tax, that politician has a long and expensive road ahead of them to retain their job. Mayor Kenney , who proposed this tax is up for re election in just under four years.
The soda industry lobbied hard against it. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg from New York tossed some money, (over a million dollars actually) to support the tax. In the end, council thought they were doing the right thing. We will see in election time and we will see if people will pay as much as $1.50 extra for a soda. This tax also includes diet drinks and drinks ordered at restaurants. This tax will be finalized by council next week to make up the budget.
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