Pittsburgh's Mayor catching soda-tax fever

The sweet-drinks tax being debated in City Council Wednesday morning has caught the attention of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who is now talking about a similar tax to solve his city's own considerable budget problems, as reported in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A number of states are considering lesser versions of Philly's proposed, steep 2-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks from Gatorade to Coke to chocolate milk. A 1-cent-per-ounce tax in New York state appears dead, while Colorado will lift the exemption for soda on the the state 2.9 percent sales tax on May 1. California is considering a tax linked to teaspoons of sugar, a tax expected to add 10 or 11 percent to the cost of soft drinks.

Nowhere else has a tax-per-ounce on soft drinks passed. An almost identical 2-cent-per-ounce proposal in Mississippi has been pronounced dead. The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity tracks proposals across the country on its website.

In Philadelphia, the argument has turned to jobs, as Miriam Hill reported in today's paper. City Council has until May 31 to approve the Mayor's proposal and budget, or offer revenue alternatives.

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