By Pat Loeb, Justin Udo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A traffic-snarling protest at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon ended in a victory, of sorts, for the bottlers and retailers who oppose a tax on sugary beverages. They secured three firm votes against the tax from members of Philadelphia City Council.
It’s been discernible during budget hearings that certain council members lean for or against the three-cents-an-ounce tax that would pay for universal pre-K and renewing city facilities, but three council members removed any doubt about their stance, appearing at a rally staged by the soda-industry-funded Philadelphians Against the Soda Tax.
“I’m voting with the public who say no taxes,” said Councilwoman Janie Blackwell, “people are talking about what an extra $3 will mean.”
Blackwell was joined by colleagues Maria Quinones Sanchez and freshman Republican Al Taubenberger, pledging to vote no. She says she is reflecting what she hears from constituents.
“Everywhere I go I have people say, sure they’re for pre-K, they’re for community schools, they’re for parks and rec, they’re for many things, they’re for libraries,” Blackwell said, “but people are not for another tax.”
Despite the lack of support from the three council members, Mayor Kenney remains confident his legislation will go through.
“We are not surprised,” Kenney said. “We did not have them counted in our column to begin with.”
The mayor needs nine of the remaining 14 votes to get the tax passed. He says council members should consider the state of their communities when casting their vote.
“People need to look at their district and look at the needs in parks, recreation centers and libraries, the need for pre-K” the mayor said. “We’re not going to stop trying to provide that for everyone, even if they’re not for us.”
Mayor Kenney says defending the billions in profits of soda manufacturers is not what officials should be doing.
No council member has come out in firm support of the tax.