Fate of Philly sugary drinks tax still uncertain

(Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

(Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

Philadelphia’s proposed tax on soda and sugary beverages is still no closer to passage.

Council President Darrell Clarke said last week that a three cents-per ounce tax was an issue.  This week Clarke was noncommittal, saying he wasn’t sure there are votes to pass any tax, even if smaller than three cents.

“I have not polled members so I’m not clear where we are.  I think all the information has to be put out on the table both in terms of the programmatic side and the terms of the impact on the particular tax and those are still issues that are being discussed,” he said.

Clarke says he’s still concerned how the tax would hit poorer neighborhoods.

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“We have maps that reflect where those locales are when the sugary drinks are being sold it’s clearly in the lower income neighborhoods,” he said.

Mayor Kenney’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt says enacting a smaller tax would mean less money for everything from universal pre-K to green jobs.

There are full-blown ad campaigns lobbying for and against the proposed tax.  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping bankroll the pro-tax side.  The American Beverage Association is leading the opposition.

For the tax to be part of the next Philadelphia budget, City Council would have to vote on it this month or next.

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