PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Despite preliminary approval, those who oppose the tax on sugary drinks still say the fight is not over. City Council is gearing up for a vote that could result in a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. That’s half of what Mayor Jim Kenney initially proposed.
Smaller cities, that have eyed similar measures, have done so for health purposes. In Philadelphia, it has been made clear that the goal is education and community improvement.
What has not been made clear is the plan.
Kenney is pleased with the green light that could make Philadelphia the first major U.S. city to implement a tax on sugary drinks. “It came down to a compromise that I think is workable for everybody,” said Kenney.
Despite the 1.5 cent tax as opposed to the 3 cent tax, the inclusion of diet drinks brings the projected revenue close to the original target of $95 million per year.
Kenney says the reason that this has failed in other cities is that it wasn’t tied to initiatives that people could understand.
However, not everyone in Philadelphia understands how the enhancement to pre-k, parks, recreation centers and libraries will work.
“I’m concerned that we are rushing to get things done,” said Councilman David Oh. He voted against the tax.
“I was asking, even this morning, does anybody know where exactly the money is going to be spent.”
On Wednesday, it was revealed that a portion of the revenue will be diverted from pre-k and community programs to the city’s fund balance. “It was only 4 percent of the money that is expected to be raised so, it didn’t seem like it rose to the level of any type of discussion until the soda companies raised it,” Kenney said.
However, both sides of the argument have agreed that the cause is noble. Kenney told CBS News that his plan will enroll 8 to 10,000 children in pre-k over the next four years.
Opposition could bring this issue to court, challenging the city’s authority to implement such a tax.