Attempt to hike tax on drinking in Philly falters

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to increase the drink tax is on life support.

Council President Darrell Clarke said lawmakers would not vote on the proposal Wednesday, signaling that there is not enough support now for it to pass. The plan, which requires state-enabling legislation, would raise the liquor-by-the-drink tax to 15 percent from 10 percent.

It would generate $22 million for the struggling school district.

But Clarke said the liquor tax hike is not dead yet. He said Council could consider it if the state passes necessary legislation.

“This whole conversation about what Council’s going to do locally with respects to liquor and tobacco is moot if we don’t get a positive vote in Harrisburg,” he said.

If the state passed enabling legislation, Council would need to change its calendar in order to pass the drink tax.

Clarke said that Council is prepared to move on legislation that would somehow raise $60 million for the district. Council has given preliminary approval to send money to the schools by increasing the use-and-occupancy tax and creating a new $2 tax on every pack of cigarettes.

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