Tax on sweetened beverages looses steam

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 30, 2013 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

A bill to put a penny per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, SB 622 (William Monning, D-Carmel), was held in the Senate Appropriations Suspense File last week. As a tax levy, it requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to pass. This exempts the bill from usual deadlines and allows the legislation to be taken up again any time in the session. CMTA and many others strongly oppose the bill. 

The tax would impact soda, certainly, but it also ensnares juice drinks, sports drinks, iced teas and even enhanced waters, resulting in higher prices on hundreds of products sold at restaurants, convenience and grocery stores. 

Singling out one group of products is discriminatory and what’s worse, it will not reduce obesity, which is ostensibly the author’s intent in depositing the funds for a special children’s health program. Obesity is a complex problem that has a myriad of contributing factors, and it’s unfair and inaccurate to portray sweetened beverages as the main culprit. 

No one would deny that obesity is a serious concern in California.  However, it’s a problem that merits a comprehensive approach, one that addresses the multiple factors that contribute to rising obesity rates. Since SB 622 does not recognize this basic fact, it is ill-equipped to have much of an impact on the health of Californians. 

Furthermore, SB 622 endangers good jobs here in California. The beverage industry directly supports thousands of well-paying jobs with benefits including bottling, distribution and retail jobs.  Businesses like restaurants, theaters and grocery stores rely on beverage sales.  In this economy, the focus should be on protecting and creating jobs, not putting them in jeopardy with another tax. 

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