this a tax on beverages and food like the ads say?
NO. It is a tax only on those beverages which have additional sugar
sweetening added. It does not tax fruit juice or milk or carbonated
water or diet drinks wothout added sugar. And sugar sweetened
beverages are not food. They have no nutritional
value other than calories and new research shows that they are toxic in large quantities especially
Why do we need a tax?
The tax serves three
- It raises money for more athletic fields for kids and programs to
fight childhood obesity and diabetes.
- The higher price discourages
consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.
- Its existence helps stimulate
the educational discussion about what is healthy for our kids and
what does serious long term damage.
Can't we get the money for the fields and programs in some other
Unfortunately, the right-wing has succeeded in blocking action in
the legislature and passing state-wide rules that limit the ways
that we can raise money for things we need in the community. Schools
are being squeezed and are even less likely to have the athletic
or health programs our kids need. If want it for our kids now then
we have to do it ourselves.
Soda is Not Food Isn't this a regressive
Yes, we are only allowed to use regressive taxes to meet the community
needs. A regressive tax is one that taxes the poor a greater amount
in proportion to income and we support efforts to make the tax system
fair. But in this case at least all the proceeds from the
tax will go to helping those in the community who need the help most.
The rich do not need public athletic fields - they can go to private
clubs. Obesity and diabetes are hitting harder in poor and
minority communities. Further, it is not a tax on necessities. If
people cut their consumption of sugary drinks by just 20% they will
pay no more. If they cut out sugary drinks totally they will save
money, and be healthier.
How do we know that this money will go to athletic fields and programs
to help the kids? Why doesn't the measure say this instead of putting
the money in the general fund?
Again, the state rules require a 2/3 vote if the measure specifically
designates where the money goes. This was passed as part of the infamous
Proposition 13. We and most people who care for democracy oppose
2/3 rules for making basic decisions. Especially in the context of
an unbalanced political field where the rich control the money available
for campaigns, to allow 1/3 to block action by the overwhelming majority
is especially undemocratic. A 2/3 vote is simply too high
a bar for most decisions.
It is legal to do this by majority vote as we are doing here if
the money goes into the general fund. To make sure that the money
is spent as we want, a second advisory measure is on the ballot that
specifies how it is to be spent.
But politicians could just spend the money as they want?
It's possible, but that is why you need to pay special attention
to whom you elect. An elected official who does not take corporate
campaign contributions will certainly follow the will of the people
in this. Because there is a ballot measure and a campaign, the will
of the people will be both clear and highly visible. And you can
be certain by electing candidates who are pledged to these programs.
Won't people just go buy in other cities?
There will certainly be some of that. But we expect that other
cities will join in. Movements start with someone going first and showing
the way. Our kids are too important to wait for others to start doing
Won't this be an unfair burden on business?
The law provides that businesses can calculate how much sugar sweetened
beverage is sold simply by comparing their inventories. Businesses
will also have flexibility. For example they can decide to promote
other beverages by putting them in more prominent positions in the