PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the Philadelphia city budget deadline draws closer, Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposal for universal pre-K, funded by a three-cents-an-ounce soda tax, is hitting new resistance.
Philadelphia city council got the first, official, alternate proposal to Mayor Kenney’s soda tax on Thursday: a container tax bill that would add 15 cents to all soft drinks, including water.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s bill would apply to any beverage container over seven ounces with the only exceptions for baby formula and milk products, which she says is more equitable:
“This tax needs to be shared by all, from soda to Perrier.”
Council majority leader Bobby Henon took the unusual step of questioning the bill right away, noting it will raise $30-million less than the soda tax:
“I encourage everyone to remember, we need to build a consensus around a proposal that will fully fund all of the initiatives that we expressed.”
Council president Darrell Clarke introduced a bill that he says would reduce the cost of pre-K by creating fewer new seats and making the school district responsible for them:
“The three cents that the mayor proposed is clearly not something that I think is needed.”
Mayor Kenney insists it is, saying putting pre-K in the school district won’t work:
“They don’t want to run it. They’re having trouble running what they have.”
Kenney needs nine votes in council to get his package passed. Most council members remain on the fence.