Kenney calls for soda tax in first budget address to Philadelphia City Council

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Mayor Jim Kenney unveiled his first budget Thursday and is asking for a soda tax to help fund initiatives like universal pre-K, rehabbed recreation centers and better equipped police and fire departments.

Kenney told the city council Thursday his 3-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages would provide $400 million to be split among several initiatives, including pre-K.

"Forty cents for this soda. So this is 12 ounces, and he wants 3 cents per ounce for this can of soda, so that's an extra 36 cents," said Kevin Simmons of North Philadelphia. "That's 76 cents for this can of soda, and I just don't agree with that."

"This neighborhood they have a lot of food stamps," said Noealis Perez, Right Choice Food Market. "Of course it's going to be bad business here."

Store owners citywide worry the proposal drives customers away.

"They'll go elsewhere. They'll go to Cherry Hill, they'll go to the suburbs," said Shel Klein, Kelin's Supermarket. "They're not going to go spend $2 extra for a 2 liter soda or another $4 for a 12-pack soda."

But others cite health benefits.

"I guess that can't be a bad thing from a public health standpoint," said James Brooks of Old City.

"I think it's good. Any money going towards schools is great," said Stacey Ann Zane of Center City.

"$16.5 million went towards the Love statue. We didn't vote on that," said Cindi Fields of South Philadelphia. "It's ridiculous. Take it from that money, not from this."

The budget in now in the hands of the City Council, which has opposed similar sugary drinks taxes twice before.

"Now it's back on the table, and hopefully Mayor Kenney will listen to our concerns of the small businessmen and take it from there and drop it as well," said Klein.

Kenney also wants $600 million to repair and reorganize city recreation centers, parks and libraries.

He also wants $550,000 annually for five years to help pay for 800 police body cameras and two $50 million bonds cover an energy efficiency campaign.

Kenney's proposed spending plan is $4.17 billion. That's $100 million more than last year's budget.


The Associated Press contributed to this post.
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