Soda tax passes - in Baltimore

The so-called soda tax, which died a quick death in Philadelphia, is alive and well in Baltimore, where that city's Councilmembers on Friday approved of the new levy to close a sizable budget gap.

Baltimore's public officials said yes to a two-cent per bottle tax for the next three years.

"Officials say proceeds of the tax, which officials estimate at $5.7 million each year, will prevent layoffs of 47 workers and fund street cleaning, graffiti removal and the maintenance of trash-skimming nets in the Inner Harbor," according to the Baltimore Sun. Read the story here.

The tax- for a limited number of years, unlike the Philadelphia's proposal - helped Baltimore close a $121 million hole in its $2.2 billion budget.

But why did the proposal pass in Baltimore but not in Philadelphia, where Mayor Nutter pushed for it as a way of generating an extra $77 million a year?

Did Baltimore's mayor lay out a more strategic argument in favor of the tax? Were Philadelphia officials more easily pushed around by the beverage industry lobby? Or was it because the 2-cent bottle tax was not pitched as part of an anti-obesity campaign?

Whatever the answers, Nutter and Philadelphia City Council members will now be observers of the tax's impact in Baltimore, including whether the lobbyists were right about the levy leading to job losses.

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