Court Rules Soda Tax Underway
As January 1 nears, Mayor Kenney’s sweetened beverage or “Soda Tax” had been ruled legal by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge. Judge Gary S. Glazer dismissed the case entirely on Monday weeks before the enactment of the tax.
The suit was brought up by the Philadelphians Against Grocery Tax Coalition, a group that lobbied against the sweetened beverage tax. "More than 30,000 Philadelphians and more than 1,600 businesses and local organizations have joined together to say that this tax unfairly targets working families and small businesses," the group said in a recently released statement.
Though the group has stated that the tax negatively affects families and small businesses but some families have seen it as a positive because it will presumably limit the availability of the beverages, and lead to more affordable and accessible education.
The tax is targeted to distributors who must pay the tax, 1.5 cents per ounce, is actually only paid by the beverage distributors, many of which have already registered with the city so that the tax can be paid on the Feb. 20 due date.
Kenney’s election platform was largely built on the increase of pre-k and early education program expansion, funded by the soda tax that Mayor Nutter had proposed but never passed. "Our kids can't wait," Kenney said at an appearance at Ludlow Elementary in Kensington. "They've waited too many generations for this. We're going to move forward to change the narrative of poverty and misery in this city."
“The School District of Philadelphia provides Pre-K educational services to approximately 9,500 age- and income-eligible children through its own Head Start and Pre-K Counts/Bright Futures programming, as well as through formal partnership agreements with over 50 high-quality, community-based early learning agencies” a report from The School District of Philadelphia stated in regards to their budget for the 2016-2017 school year.
But according to Pre-K for PA, “Even with recent increases in state funding, there are over 112,900 eligible children who qualify for high-quality, publicly funded pre-k but remain unserved” the website states.
Mayor Kenney has reported that 1,700 students were registered for the 2,000 new pre-K slots. With the numbers reported by Pre-K for PA, the gap of underserved students will have to close slowly as funds from the city and the soda tax come in.
An announcement in October from the Mayor's Office of Education stated $10.2 million will be granted by the city to 61 early education providers that run 78 sites across Philadelphia. And the soda tax should supplement that spending.
However, the Philadelphians Against Grocery Tax Coalition stated they will continue to fight against the tax despite Mayor Kenney’s urges to stop. "We will continue to oppose this discriminatory and regressive tax, which is not a sustainable revenue source to support important initiatives like pre-K programs," the statement said.