Mayor Kenney hopes soda tax will generate $400 million for projects

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Monday, February 29, 2016
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A proposed soda tax is generating a lot of feedback in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A proposed soda tax is generating a lot of feedback in Philadelphia.

On Monday the Kenney administration confirmed that the mayor will pitch a three cents per ounce soda tax when he lays out his new budget later this week.

Mayor Jim Kenney believes the tax will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to be used for education and other initiatives. However, unions and the soda industry are vowing to fight it.

The mayor is hoping to succeed where Mayor Michael Nutter failed a few years ago. Kenney is seeking the three cent tax on sugary drinks to be levied on beverage distributors. But some consumers believe they'll see that cost sooner or later, and they don't like it.

Thomas Moore of North Philadelphia says, "Soda's extremely high right now. I'm paying $1.50, $1.75 for a little bottle of soda. It's ridiculous."

City Hall says the tax would raise $400 million over the next five years and fund the expansion of universal pre-k, pay off debts needed to invest in parks and recreation centers, provide millions for community schools and the pension fund, plus money for a green jobs initiative.

Freda Nixon of West Philadelphia tells us, "It keeps the kids off the streets and things like that - anything to help a child."

And Twana Cisse of University City says, "You're trying to compete against India and China, and you want these kids to be well-education. It starts from 1 through 12, so that they can get into college and get better jobs."

As a councilman, Kenney opposed Nutter's soda tax because it was going to be used to fill a budget gap and an obesity program. There was also vocal opposition from residents. But today many said they don't mind taxing sugary drinks. They're no longer drinking them anyway.

South Philadelphia resident Anthony Stefanski says, "I don't use it. I don't drink anything with sugar in it, but it does lead to obesity and all those issues that cost us money in the long run."

Omar Brown, also of South Philadelphia, tells us, "Who needs sugary soda? Everybody got diabetes and everything. Maybe it will help some people."

The beverage industry successfully lobbied against a soda tax the last time around. They're expected to try to do so again this time. In addition, the Teamsters issued a statement against the plan, arguing it's going to cost jobs and that the proposal is flat out illegal. They too vow to put up a fight.