The Washington Post reports that Philadelphia is considering a first-ever tax on sugary drinks for the city. The proposal calls for a charge of 1.5 cents per ounce of diet and regular soda, energy drinks, juice drinks with less than 50 percent juice, ice tea and other sugary beverages.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has promoted the tax as a way raise funds for community center renovations, parks, and schools, including universal pre-school. The city council is expected to vote on the measure this week.
Recently, the Citizen Cabinet examined taxing sugary drinks as part of our larger survey on the federal budget, and the findings were noteworthy.
Several options for such a tax were presented (including the expected change in revenue):
1. Do not tax sugary drinks.
2. Tax sugary drinks at ½ cents per ounce (6 cents for a typical 12oz can) +$9 billion
3. 1 cent per ounce (12 cents for a typical 12oz can) +$18 billion
4. 2 cents per ounce (24 cents for a typical 12oz can) +$36 billion
A majority of 54% chose a tax of a half-cent per ounce or more. 26% chose the half-cent level, 13% the one-cent level and 15%, the 2-cent level. Forty-five percent chose not to impose a tax on sugary drinks.
Among Democrats, almost two-thirds (65%) recommended the tax, with 30% choosing the half-cent level and 35% going higher; 35% recommended no tax.
Among independents, half (50%) recommended a half-cent tax (48% were opposed).
Less than half of Republicans (44%) chose to adopt a tax on sugary drinks of at least a half-cent; a majority (55%) recommended against a tax.
The results indicate most citizens are ready to support a tax on sugary drinks, especially if benefits to the community are the result. In Philadelphia, we’ll have an early test case.
In the meantime, all are welcome to try the federal budget policymaking simulation. See how you would build your own budget. To get started, just click here.