State Beverage Association Opposes Soda Tax Proposal

Unsurprisingly, the Pennsylvania Beverage Association has come out swinging against Mayor Nutter's proposed soda tax. Below is a press release they've put out, arguing that the proposal would hurt jobs and business in the city.

Proposal is a cash grab that’s bad for business, jobs in Philadelphia

Harrisburg, PA (March 3, 2010) -– Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s latest plan to impose another round of taxes on soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks and other beverages will be bad for business in the city and will put at risk good jobs provided by the beverage industry, according to beverage industry and labor leaders.

Based on published reports, the Mayor is expected to call for a two-cents per ounce tax. At this rate, the tax on a two-liter bottle of soda would be $1.36, and the tax on a 12-pack of soda would be $2.88. In many cases, the tax will be more than the retail cost of the products.

“Philadelphians already pay the highest sales tax in the state, and this would increase the cost of the beverages they enjoy by as much as a staggering 100 percent,” said Tony Crisci, legislative counsel of the Pennsylvania Beverage Association (PBA). “This proposal is unfair to Philadelphians, who already are being gouged by the city’s high taxes. And, without question, this plan could have a significant impact on the family-sustaining jobs offered by our industry.”

Danny Grace of Teamsters Local 830 in Philadelphia agreed.

“If the government drives up the cost of the products our members deliver, there will be a direct impact on jobs,” said Grace. “The math is simple: Less production and distribution will mean fewer jobs available for those who work in an industry that actually has ADDED jobs throughout the ongoing economic downturn. In these economic times, Philadelphia can't afford to bleed anymore middle-class jobs. ”

Crisci noted that the beverage industry in Philadelphia is strong, and, in fact, added jobs at a time when Philadelphia’s unemployment rate climbed to more than 10 percent. All told, about 2,000 Philadelphia-area jobs are directly attributed to the beverage industry.

“It’s hard to understand why anyone would lay out an idea that not only would heap new burdens on Philadelphians when they can least afford it, but also put the city at a competitive disadvantage, especially in these still challenging economic times,” Crisci said.

The mayor claims this new tax plan will help make the city’s residents healthier. But Philadelphians aren’t falling for it. They know that taxes don’t make people healthier; diet and exercise do that.

When it comes to tackling obesity, what matters most is balancing the calories from all foods and beverages consumed with those burned through regular physical activity. These are the keys to living a balanced lifestyle - something the beverage industry supports and encourages by offering a wide variety of no- and low-calorie beverages, providing easy access to calorie and nutrition information and promoting physical activity.

“If the Mayor is serious about making Philadelphians healthier, then he should place a greater emphasis on exercise and smart eating habits – not job-crushing taxes on the city’s residents,” Crisci added. “This is nothing more than a massive money grab, taking cash out of the pockets of hard-working Philadelphians.”