Sugary drinks tax gets love at Council hearing

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City Council President Darrell Clarke listens to public comments on the Philadelphia schools budget. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

City Council President Darrell Clarke listens to public comments on the Philadelphia schools budget. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Supporters of Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed soda tax made their case Wednesday at a City Council hearing on the school district’s budget proposal. 

Anne O’Brien came to Council chambers to support the sugary drink tax. As a lifelong resident of Philadelphia and a pre-kindergarten provider, she said the city must do more to help underprivileged youth.

“Law enforcement officials tell us that they support high quality pre-K because it lowers incarceration rates,” O’ Brien said. “I have waiting lists for my pre-K programs, but there is no waiting list for prison –  there’s lots of room there.”

Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth reminded Councilmembers that just a year ago 80 percent of voters approved a pre-K referendum.

“More ‘yes’ votes were cast for Pre-K than for mayoral candidates Williams, Abraham, Oliver, Diaz and Street combined,” Cooper said.

Cooper says with that mandate Council should approve the tax on sugary drinks that will fund the pre-k programs.

Opponents of the tax have made their case at earlier Council budget hearings.

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