HARRISBURG (CBS) — A State Senate committee hearing featured a sparring match between a senator from Philadelphia who insists he does not want to overturn the city’s sweetened beverage tax and an activist who suspects lawmakers may have other ideas.

The Senate committee hearing was held at the behest of Philadelphia Democrat Anthony Williams, who was adamant that he is not backing state legislation to eliminate the beverage tax, which funds pre-K and other programs.

But Donna Cooper, head of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, suggests that’s what legislators are up to.

“This hearing at its core is about the powers of local government and the Commonwealth, and what appears to be the desire of some in the Senate to usurp and subjugate our powers, plain and simple,” Cooper said.

Williams retorted that the hearing was supposed to be about getting information.

“But for some reason, it’s been hijacked into ‘you’re right and we’re fools.’ And I think that that’s disrespectful to the thousands of people I’ve talked to who do feel that this is an onerous tax upon them,” said Williams.

Williams says the tax is having consequences for Philadelphia’s poorest residents.