Mayor hails re­jec­tion of suit against Philly soda tax

Money raised would ben­e­fit ed­u­ca­tion, neigh­bor­hoods.

The Times-Tribune - - Local / State -

PHILADEL­PHIA — A judge has dis­missed a law­suit aimed at block­ing a tax on so­das set to take ef­fect in Philadel­phia next month and in­tended to ben­e­fit ed­u­ca­tional and neigh­bor­hood ini­tia­tives.

Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer on Mon­day re­jected the suit filed by the Amer­i­can Bev­er­age As­so­ci­a­tion and oth­ers, The Philadel­phia In­quirer re­ported.

The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax amounts to 18 cents on a 12-ounce can of soda or $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bot­tles. Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, has a sim­i­lar soda tax, while Chicago taxes re­tail soft drink sales and foun­tain drinks. But soda tax pro­pos­als have failed in more than 30 cities and states.

Demo­cratic Philadel­phia Mayor Jim Ken­ney has pledged to spend most of the es­ti­mated $90 mil­lion in new tax rev­enue next year to pay for pre-kinder­garten, com­mu­nity schools and re­cre­ation cen­ters.

The law­suit filed by bev­er­age in­dus­try groups, restau­rants and con­sumers ar­gued the tax on both sug­ary and diet bev­er­ages du­pli­cates the state sales tax al­ready im­posed on soda and is un­fairly based on vol­ume, not price, re­sult­ing in a higher tax rate on soda than on more ex­pen­sive en­ergy or cof­fee drinks. The suit con­tends the tax would harm city res­i­dents and dis­ad­van­tage busi­nesses that sell soft drinks com­pared to com­pa­nies just out­side city lim­its.

The plain­tiffs have vowed an ap­peal to the state Supreme Court, but Mr. Ken­ney urged them to ac­cept the judge’s rul­ing, calling on them to “do the right thing for the chil­dren of Philadel­phia, many of whom strug­gle in the chill­ing grip of per­va­sive poverty.”

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