Another round of commercials is circulating in the battle over Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax.
“The tax is creating a beer boon,” proclaims a new spot. “The excise tax for beer is 8 cents a gallon, but the tax on the same amount of soda including diet drinks is a $1.92.”
The radio commercial paid for by the soda industry competes with a TV ad — financed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — that praises Mayor Jim Kenney’s pre-K initiative funded by revenue from the tax.
Kenney dismissed the latest ad blitz.
“They can continue to obfuscate this issue as much as they want, they are still wrong,” he said of the soda industry allies. “We’re still getting our programs done despite all the distractions.”
Lobbying expense reports show the soda industry has spent more than $3 million since the tax went into effect in January. So far, the tax has generated about $39 million, about $7 million short of what city officials had projected.
Anthony Campisi, spokesman for the Ax the Bev Tax coalition, said people are suffering because of the 1.5 cents-per-ounce levy — and they aren’t giving up.
“As long as the impact of this tax is being felt by these people, we are still going to be here continuing to educate on the dangers of this tax,” Campisi said.
Lower courts have upheld the tax implemented in January as a way of raising revenue for expanded pre-K in the city, as well as funding repairs and upgrades to libraries, parks and recreation. The coalition has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to weigh in on its legality.