It’s official: after a months-long debate that counts among the most disingenuous in the city’s history, Council has ushered in a new tax on beverages that at the last minute will funnel money into our General Fund and tax diet beverages as well as sugary ones. All the Democrats on Council but one ignored all arguments to the contrary to rubber-stamp the Mayor’s 1.5 cents per ounce tax that will fall disproportionately on the poorest Philadelphians. All three Republicans, At-Large Councilmen David Oh and Al Taubenberger and In-District Councilman Brian O’Neill, opposed the tax.
“It’s shameful how little the Democrats on Council listen to their constituents. You saw the citizens lining up in testimony against this regressive beverage tax,” said Joe DeFelice, Chairman of the Philadelphia Republican Party. “If you think they’re angry now, wait till their grocery bills go up. Yes, this will obviously fall on the poorest the most. Yes, people are going to be angry about it.”
The money which will now be flowing from city consumers’ wallets to City Hall goes to programs that the Mayor has barely bothered to outline: What is “universal” Pre-K? Does it include Catholic, Jewish and Muslim pre-K programs or will the Mayor now undercut them? Why, after so many arguments in favor of “the children,” are we now seeing over $40 million of taxpayer money going to the Mayor’s opaque “General Fund”? And, most importantly, what are we going to do about our Third-World schooling system once kids graduate preschool and parents have one (terrible) option for their children?
We believe this bill will face stiff opposition in courts, incurring significant further costs to the taxpayer. We can be also assured that Mayor Kenny and Council have little plans for cost controls and improved services for Philadelphians. For City Democrats, there is never enough taxpayer money to spend, and there is no problem that can’t be solved by another layer of bureaucracy and another onerous tax hike.