Kenney signs 'soda tax' into law
The Mayor’s reception room erupted into applause as Mayor Jim Kenney entered, ready to sign the sugary beverage tax into law, the first in a major American city.
The tax passed with a 13-4 vote last week, though it will not go into effect until next year. Earlier this month, City Council gave preliminary approval in committee to place a tax on sugary drinks.
“Opponents of my proposals had the resources to hire professional lobbyists to battle the effort, as they have done in numerous other cities. But we had something far stronger – the dreams, hard work and compassion of hundreds of supporters who share my goal for a better Philadelphia,” Kenney said. “When a young child now succeeds because she got a jump start in pre-K, or finds an activity she loves at her rec center, these supporters here today – and those who could not attend – can take pride in that huge accomplishment.”
Kenney thanked the advocates, parents and others who supported and worked with him on the tax before the initial signing. Kenney added that the City can do “big things” and get things accomplished when on the same team.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown issued the following statement upon the signing of the tax:
“Today is a historic day for the City of Philadelphia. As a former educator and staunch advocate for children, youth and underrepresented and underserved communities, this legislation symbolizes what can be accomplished when we work together,” Reynolds Brown said. “Our children are the ultimate winners in this unprecedented legislative action. The goal has always been to provide a sustainable solution that will allow for universal pre-K for all, improvements and access to recreation centers for all and community schools for all. This legislation represents a shared sacrifice for all to fund these essential programs.”
Not everyone was happy with the signing of the 'soda tax'. Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax, a coalition of more than 30,000 concerned citizens and more than 1,600 businesses owners released a statement following the signing, calling the legislation “...an unconstitutional and regressive tax that will force Philadelphians to pay higher prices in grocery stores, theaters, restaurants and taverns.”
The coalition said that in response, the Center City law firm of Kline & Specter P.C. has been obtained to pursue legal action that will protect working families and small businesses across the city that can’t afford to pay the tax.
“Although Mayor Kenney promised that the money raised from this tax would expand pre-Kindergarten, pay for community schools and fund a reconstruction of city infrastructure, repeated 11th hour revelations showed that tens of millions of hard-earned taxpayer money are instead being spent on totally unrelated items,” the coalition said. “From padding the city surplus to paying for employee benefits. Less than half of the money collected by this new discriminatory tax will go toward pre-K. Philadelphians did not get the transparent budget process they deserved.”