Friday, July 26, 2019

Soda Tax Revenue - Where Should It Go?

I'm interested to know what readers think about Mayor Durkan's promised veto of a bill that the City  Council passed to keep the soda tax money for supplying healthy food to low-income households.

I'll just point out that the Mayor assumed that once she started funding other types of programs out of the soda tax, it would just continue on that way.  Not sure that was a good assumption to make.  Meanwhile, it leaves different groups who serve low-income communities fighting for dollars.  And, then the Mayor has to decide who gets cuts. 
From the Seattle Times:
The beverage tax raised $22 million in 2018, much more than expected. When Durkan drew up this year’s budget, she used about $6 million in proceeds from the tax to support the general fund, which pays for everything from cops to homeless services. The council reluctantly agreed to the arrangement at the time, and the mayor would like to maintain it next year.

Practically speaking, the law puts the onus on the mayor to deal with any gap in the city’s budget. If Durkan proposes cuts to human services in September, council members will seek to restore that funding by making trims elsewhere, they said.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who championed Monday’s measure, said he wants to protect the idea behind the tax, which is supposed to reduce soda consumption by making sugary drinks more pricey and by funding programs that encourage healthful living in low-income communities and communities of color. Those communities are targeted by soda marketing and are bearing the brunt of the tax, he said.

Seattle used soda-tax revenue this year to cover $6 million previously paid by the general fund in allocations to healthful food and early-learning needs, such as food banks and parent-child programs. That freed up general-fund money to use in other areas, such as homeless services. The council is now tying Durkan’s hands without telling her where to cut, she says.

“I am disappointed,” the mayor said in a statement. “Because the council has refused to … put forward a balanced plan, I will veto this bill.”

From KIRO 7:
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says she will veto the City Council plan to put restrictions on the use of money from the sweetened beverage tax.  

A veto proof majority of seven council members just passed those restrictions late this afternoon. Only council member Able Pacheco voted against the change.

“Since it was about health let's put a health equity lens on it and give it back to the same community it was coming from but by way of healthy food,” said Tanika Thompson of Got Green, a non-profit agency that promotes access to healthy foods.
Also this was on Twitter today:
Image may contain: 1 person, text


SBT said...

The general fund pays for many programs. The SBT was higher than expected. I'm ok with SBT funding programs and the mayor returning some funds to the general fund. The future of SBT funding is uncertain. The idea is to decrease soda consumption. If soda consumption is decreased, funding will decrease. New programs will not be sustainable.

Anonymous said...

Where does the bag tax go? (Or the tax on the tax and all those rounded up pennies when get an odd amount)

I would change the definition for t1 funding 10 percent less and I would double their funding through the beverage tax, LEV and bag tax.


Anonymous said...

This is such an unfair, recessive, nanny-state tax. I think I heard it's going to be on the ballot in November, so hopefully it will go away. IF they had added sugar coffee drinks, then at least it would be a little more fair. I would however, still think it's wrong. That being said. The tax should go where the people were told it would go. They should not just up and change it mid-stream.

Anonymous said...
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Alsept Teresa said...

@get real. It’s a sales tax. You do understand how those work, don’t you? Or do you need me to explain it to you? I don’t believe I’ve ever been rude to you, so why the mean comment?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teresa, Get Real is no longer welcome here (take that as your notice, Get Real). This person's tone is unpleasant and that won't fly anymore.

Anonymous said...

Science Teacher... do you mean “regressive” tax? Not sure what a recessive tax would be.


Anonymous said...

Yes I did. LOL