Philly soda tax proposal back on the table

Philly soda tax proposal back on the table
Metro file photo

Philly could be the next big city to charge an extra tax on residents who enjoy soda and other sugary beverages.

Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to pitch the new taxto the public when he gives his budget address this week, according to Philly Mag, citing unidentified sources.

Philly has attempted to tax soda drinks in the past. Former mayor Michael Nutter lobbied for the tax unsuccessfully in 2010 and 2011. In fact, then-Councilman Kenney was one of the people who opposed it.

“I was not for the soda tax the first time I will not be for it the second time,” Kenney told WHYY in March 2012.

Nutter’s2-cent-per-ounce soda tax proposal — later reduced to 0.75 cents per ounce –was almost as unpopular as his request that City Council members give up their city-paid cars.

Nutter blamed the American Beverage Association’s lobbyistsfor killing the soda tax in Philly, the Daily News reported.Teamsters Local 830, whose members include bottlers and drivers for soda companies, also opposed the tax.

Philadelphia did pass a $2-per-pack cigarette tax to help fund the School District, which took effect in June 2014.

But as a new mayor, Kenney has big plans — including his proposal for universal pre-K — that will require finding new sources of funding in new sources.

Some believe that Councilman Bobby Henon’s elevation to majority leader of City Council could help Kenney get the plan off the ground.

Given Kenney’s close ties with council, a vast improvement over how Nutter got along with the legislative body, he might have an easier time negotiating the votes needed to make the new tax a reality.

New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg failed to get a soda tax passed in 2010. In 2013, his ban onsoda being served in larger than 16 ounce servings was blocked by a state judge.

Berkeley, California has a one cent-per-ounce soda tax that went into effect in 2015.