KYW: Saying “nothing worth having in life is free,” Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter on Thursday morning delivered a nearly $4-billion budget to City Council. And he asked for the lawmakers’ support for two firsts: a tax on soda and a fee for trash collection. Nutter proposed a flat $300 per year, per property trash fee (see previous story) and a two-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks (see related story). He said these will bring in an extra $184 million per year to save city services. MORE
RELATED: William Dietz of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDC chief Thomas Frieden call a soft drink tax “the single-most effective measure to reverse the obesity epidemic.” This is no surprise coming from Frieden, who honed his naysaying skills as New York City’s health czar. And it’s not just federal government activists leading the way. Soft drink taxes have gained ground in state legislatures too. And this week, Philadelphia’s mayor is expected to propose a city-wide tax on sugared beverages. MORE
RELATED: Mississippi State Senator Deborah Dawkins and Representative John Mayo asked the John Stennis Institute of Government to conduct a research study to see if there is a correlation between obesity and soda consumption. This study found that Americans drink more soft drinks than any other country in the world, and that sugar consumption from sodas are 33 percent higher than other sweets like cookies, cakes, ice cream, fruit drinks and candy. According to the Center’s for Disease Control, Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the nation at 33.4 percent. These results have trickled down into the youth where 35.8 percent of high schooler’s are either overweight or obese. MORE
RELATED: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is pushing a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, which would be the highest such levy in the country. Nutter’s proposed tax is 35 times the state’s beer tax, 10 times as heavy as Chicago’s soda tax, and twice the rate advocated by anti-fat crusader Kelly Brownell, who is overjoyed at the thought of forcing poor people to forsake their favorite beverages. If implemented as intended, Nutter’s tax would raise the price of a can of Coke by 32 cents and the price of a two-liter bottle by $1.35. But there is some question whether consumers actually would see those price hikes, since the levy would be collected as a “business-privilege tax” rather than a sales tax to avoid the need for approval from the state legislature. Retailers might decide to compensate by raising prices across the board instead of focusing the burden on politically incorrect beverages. MORE
RELATED: After successfully quashing discussion of a federal tax on soft drinks last year, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and the fast-food industry are facing a new battle on the state level, where legislators are beginning to consider their own taxes on sweetened beverages.The next showdown could be in California, where legislators last week pledged to pass such a tax in light of new studies linking soft drink consumption to obesity in children and adults. One study suggests that obesity and related problems cost California alone $41 billion a year in medical expenses and reduced productivity. In the last year, proposals to alter the tax treatment of soft drinks have surfaced in 12 states, including a bill that recently passed the Colorado Legislature. The city of Chicago currently taxes soft drink sales. In Washington, D.C., the industry spent at least $18 million on lobbying and millions more in campaign donations to key officials, derailing any discussion of taxing soft drinks as a means of helping fund a federal healthcare overhaul. The industry also partnered with community and minority groups to oppose a federal tax, based on the argument that a tax on sodas would disproportionately affect poor people. MORE
RELATED: I have no problem with the new property tax (I mean trash tax) so long as all Philadelphians pay their share. Before this property tax (I mean trash tax) is implemented, trash collectors should be retrained to do the following:
(1) All trash bags that don’t make it into the truck are now picked up before the truck moves on.
(2) Pick up all the trash at each property, not just some of it.
(3) Once the trash is collected, send crews in to ensure that no trash has been left behind.
Once this happens, I’ll gladly pay those taxes (not fees). I don’t care about the soda tax – never drank it. MORE
BUZZ BISSINGER: The only thing I routinely expect from the city in return for the obscene taxes I pay is garbage pickup. It is insulting when he says that Philadelphians are under the impression they get it for free, and his proposal of a $300 yearly fee is not a fee, but an added-on property tax. If it is truly a fee, then citizens should also have a right not to pay it and to find cheaper alternatives. As for the soda tax, please don’t lump this under some greater-good health issue of lowering obesity. Unlike cigarettes, there is no proof that sodas are addictive. In this day and age where everybody is a victim, I have come up with a novel solution for those who are fat – put less into your mouth. If Nutter is going to push for a soda tax, why not a doughnut tax, and a bagel tax, and a cheesesteak tax, and given his high-and-mighty morality, a politicians-having-extramarital-trysts tax (probably the biggest potential revenue producer of all)? Nutter has the political acumen to know that the new taxes are tenuous. But he has very cleverly thrown the onus on City Council, which has to approve the measures. If it does not, he can say that he has no choice but to lay off workers, or to raise taxes, and it is Council’s fault. MORE