Students show support for Philly soda tax

Listen
 Philadelphia City Council members meet  pre-K students outside their caucus room in City Hall Thursday. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council members meet pre-K students outside their caucus room in City Hall Thursday. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A group directly benefiting from Philadelphia’s controversial tax on sweetened beverages came to City Council to say thank you on Thursday.

The students from the Children’s Playhouse in South Philadelphia were on a field trip to see their government in action.  They came to City Hall bearing homemade signs thanking Council embers for passing the “soda tax” that is contributing revenue to pre-K expansion  in the city.

It felt good posing for a picture with the children, said Councilman Curtis Jones.

“It’s important to see the end product of what you are fighting for,” Jones said. “Whether you are Mayor Kenney or a member of Council, when you implement a hard tax and then see the fruit of your labor in pre-K and, hopefully, libraries and recreation centers restored, it reminds us why we are here.”

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell said she sympathizes with soda company workers who may lose jobs, but investing in education is of utmost importance.

“I don’t believe you pass one thing to hurt something else, I really had to push out this time,” she said. “But we did it. We try to do the right thing, and we still don’t know what happens next year.”

The soda industry leaders are challenging the legality of the 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax, claiming that it is forcing reductions and layoffs amid diminishing sales.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.