PHOTOS: Soda-Tax Opponents Rally at City Hall
Nothing like a caravan of tractor trailers laying on their horns and blocking traffic to strike sympathy in the hearts of passersby.
On Wednesday afternoon, opponents of Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan to tax sugary drinks in order to pay for universal pre-kindergarten gathered on the northeast apron of City Hall to make some noise. “No Philly Grocery Tax!” they said.
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez was there. She said the administration should look for a source of Pre-K funding that’s “more predictable.” Maybe the city could hold off on a planned reduction in wage taxes, she said. Or it could capture the additional $30 million in property-tax revenue that City Controller Alan Butkovitz said would be coming its way from new property assessments. (The mayor’s office has said the increase was expected and accounted for in its budget proposal.)
Councilman Mark Squilla wasn’t there there, strictly speaking, but he did happen to be walking by. He said Council members are still studying all the variables — how much a three-cent-per-ounce tax would raise, how much Pre-K actually needs, whether there’s a better source of revenue to fund it.
“Everything is still in play, and at this time we’re waiting to hear what other alternative options are out there,” Squilla said.
Meanwhile, things were quieter on the west side of City Hall. Traffic was blocked, and two guys wearing lanyards for a craft-beer convention weren’t commenting on the proposed soda tax. Neither were a couple of food-cart vendors.
But Kayla Gibbons, a student a Freire Charter Middle School, listened intently to a reporter’s description of the soda-tax proposal, which could add an extra 36 cents to the cost of a 12-ounce can of soda.
“That’s too much,” Gibbons said. “Soda’s already a dollar.”
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