Earlier this month, Mayor Kenney announced his comprehensive plan to invest in our neighborhoods with a series of bold new initiatives, including upgrades to City recreation centers, libraries, and parks; expansion quality pre-K; funding of 25 new community schools; modern retrofitting of City-owned facilities; and a reduction in pension debt. To accomplish this goal, the Mayor has proposed a $0.03 per ounce tax on sugary drinks to raise revenue.

Now, we need your organization's voice to be heard! Sign your organization on to the letter to City Council below and tell our city's elected officials that your organization supports this initiative! 

Philadelphia City Council

400 City Hall

Philadelphia, PA 19107

Dear Members of City Council,

            We the undersigned have joined together to fight for solutions to the most crippling problems that confront our city –inadequate public schools, struggling neighborhoods and the highest poverty rate of any major city in America,.

            We believe that theproposed FY2017 budget includes a comprehensive plan to address these issues, through a series of investments that would: expand pre-K opportunities for 10,000 additional Philadelphia children; rebuild neighborhood parks, rec centers, and libraries; create 25 Community Schools that provide essential health and social services to “wrap around” education programs to make them more effective; retrofit City buildings to make them more energy-efficient; and provide more resources to the City’s struggling pension fund.

As you’re aware, the Mayor has proposed to pay for these investments through a Sugary Drinks Tax, to be levied at three cents per ounce on all distributors of soda and other sweetened drinks sold in Philadelphia. We know that for this measure to become law, the Sugary Drinks Tax must be approved by a majority of Council.  We ask you to support the tax as the best way to pay for the investments that mean so much to tens of thousands of our fellow citizens who will directly benefit from these proposals.

Criticism of the proposal has been driven largely by soda manufacturers and their allies, who have earmarked significant funds to defeat it.  Their arguments thus far have focused on attacking the proposal as a tax on the City’s poor that also will kill jobs in Philadelphia.  Their mission is to demonize and defeat the proposal without ever acknowledging the real reason for their opposition to it: the Sugary Drinks Tax would force Big Soda to share a small portion of their enormous yearly profits to benefit poor people and children in Philadelphia.

The facts make it clear that enactment of the tax would not kill jobs in Philadelphia.  On the contrary, the Big Soda companies already are earning a larger share of their profits these days from beverages other than sugary drinks, and even assuming that soda consumption decreases as a result of the tax, it is equally true that consumption of other non-sugary beverages – most of which are sold by Big Soda as well – may very well increase, without being subject to the tax.

Putting aside the irony of Big Soda complaining about hurting poor people – after all, the industry spends billions to convince poor people and children to consume sugary drinks – let’s remember that the proposal would levy the tax on distributors only, and not directly on consumers at the point of sale. 

But these attacks miss the real point anyway: the proposed Sugary Drinks Tax represents the fairest, most effective way to benefit poor people and children by providing more than $400 million to fund programs that address the most pressing issues of our time.  No one disputes that expanding prekindergarten will ensure our youngest Philadelphians are given a better chance to succeed.   Or that rebuilding parks, libraries and rec centers is essential to improving quality of life in the neighborhoods they serve.  The evidence makes clear that Community Schools are a national model for educational success; and that retrofitting City buildings will generate millions each year in energy savings while providing thousands of new jobs for our citizens.  Or that putting additional resources toward the City’s pension debt is an essential step for Philadelphia’s fiscal future.

The truth is that the Sugary Drinks Tax asks Big Soda to redirect a small portion of their annual profits – in 2012 alone, the three biggest soda companies enjoyed $18 billion in profits – to programs that will directly benefit thousands of poor people and children in our city. 

We join the growing numbers of Philadelphia citizens, workers, small business owners, economists, unions, faith leaders, non-profits and civic organizations who recognize that now is the time for decisive action to address Philadelphia’s most persistent problems.

For our future, we urge your support of the Sugary Drinks Tax.


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