Seattle Passes Massive 'Job-Killing' Tax On Sugary Drinks

Jun 09, 2017, 02:45
Seattle Passes Massive 'Job-Killing' Tax On Sugary Drinks

After years of stamping out soda tax proposals with well-financed campaigns, Big Soda is suddenly finding itself up against bigger adversaries.

The Seattle City Council yesterday approved the second-highest "soda tax" in the nation - at 1.75 cents per ounce, behind only Boulder, Colo.'s 2 cents per ounce - yet how it may apply to coffee-based drinks in retail settings remains unclear. Councilman Tim Burgess, who sponsored the tax after Democratic Mayor Ed Murray proposed the idea in February, argues soda and other drinks are a threat to public health.

"The City Council turned its back today on small business owners and working families with this job-killing tax that will drive up costs and further increase income inequality in Seattle", said a statement from the business coalition Keep Seattle Livable for All.

Though many councilmembers expressed interest in revisiting the diet drink debate down the line, diet drinks remained excluded from the final tax, a move that many critics called regressive. The ABA also said the tax would not improve public health. Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage bill in 2014.

The version that advanced out a council committee Wednesday, however, doesn't include diet drinks.

"If our goal is to educate and not punish, then there is a better way to encourage individuals to consider the calories and sugar they consume from their beverages", the group said in a recent post on their Sip & Savor blog. They say it would cut down on the consumption of sugary drinks that have little nutritional value.

"When this tax went to a ballot in Santa Fe just last month it was overwhelmingly defeated by the people", the ABA said. It would fund health and education programs for children and also go toward food banks, among other things. "Aimed at promoting a healthy diet, the tax would have the opposite effect if applied to coffee".

Herbold has attempted a couple of times to reduce the burden on distributors, who would feel the brunt of the next taxes.

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