EPeak Daily

Will soda tax bitter Philly mayor’s possibilities at re-election?

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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature accomplishment is controversial — and a special-interest group it impacts is spending massive cash attempting to knock him out of workplace.

Beneath Kenney, the Metropolis Council enacted a tax on sweetened soda in January 2017. The 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax, which is levied on distributors, funds pre-kindergarten courses, group faculties and Rebuild, a $500 million program to renovate public areas.

Kenney’s two challengers within the Might 21 Democratic mayoral major, State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and former Metropolis Controller Alan Butkovitz, oppose the tax. A brand new ballot reveals {that a} majority of Philadelphians do too.

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The American Beverage Affiliation, which spent $16.2 million from 2016 to 2018 to combat the tax, sees a gap: It spent $408,000 final month to air commercials essential of Kenney’s program, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. On Apr. 23, WHYY reported that the beverage-industry group had spent $604,000 total on advertisements attacking Kenney and the tax.

The group has additionally began campaigning in opposition to Metropolis Council members who voted for the tax. An ABA-funded TV advert spotlights the town’s $368 million finances surplus in 2018, arguing that the town might afford to pay for the social applications with out the “unfair beverage tax that hits working households the toughest.” It implores viewers to “inform Metropolis Council to face as much as the mayor” and finish the tax.

As nationwide weight problems charges proceed to climb, public well being advocates say the tax is worth it and has been efficient. They level to a brand new examine that reveals the tax has diminished the consumption of sugary drinks. Gross sales of sweetened drinks fell 51 p.c at Philadelphia chain meals retailers throughout the first 12 months beneath the tax, in response to a examine printed within the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation Tuesday. (Gross sales elevated 24 p.c exterior the town, leaving consumption at a web adverse.)

However some group leaders object to the tax, saying that it unfairly impacts lower-income households and folks of colour. Late final 12 months, a gaggle of 20 black clergy got here out in opposition to the tax. A ballot launched final Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Belief discovered that 71 p.c of black respondents disapproved of the tax, the Philadelphia Tribune reported. Total, 65 p.c of Philadelphians disapproved of the tax; 31 p.c accredited.

It is unclear if the tax will probably be a wedge situation that prices Kenney the Democratic nomination. An ABA-funded ballot confirmed that 59 p.c of Democratic voters opposed the tax, however they have been evenly break up on whether or not Kenney ought to be re-elected: 43 p.c to 43 p.c.

In rebuttal, spokespeople for Kenney’s marketing campaign have emphasised the applications the tax is funding. “We absolutely anticipated the multibillion-dollar beverage {industry} to pour massive cash into this election,” Kenney spokesman Harrison Morgan advised the Inquirer. “They’re extra involved with their revenue margins than the kids of Philadelphia.”

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