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Soda pop tax

April 29th, 2013 | by James Folmer | Comments

Monday is my day to scout editorial ideas to pitch to The Desert Sun editorial board on Tuesdays. I review the previous week’s worth of papers, scroll the Associated Press and other wires and check on other websites, including newspapers. And I read the latest emails from the League of California Cities and the California Taxpayers Association.
CalTax is a rich source of ideas, often leading to good topics that have yet to blossom in print. For instance, Friday’s report says the Senate Governance and Finance Committee has approved a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks. That adds up to $1.28 on a gallon of soda. I found this while sipping a Diet Coke.
Considering the reaction to New York City’s attempt to ban Big Gulps and judge’s ruling striking down the ban, I expect this could develop into a quite a talker.
At the hearing last Wednesday, doctors said sodas are the primary reason that many young people are overweight and have health problems. The tax is meant to reduce consumption of non-diet sodas. It also assumes many won’t be able to resist and designates the revenue toward programs to fight obesity.
The Teamsters Union showed up to oppose the bill, because their members make these products. CalTax quotes Sen. Jim Beall, a Democrat who supports the bill, wondering why we should tax just soft drinks. Why not sugar itself?
“In regards to sugar, there are many ways to sin,” Beall said.
As usual, I can see both sides. Childhood obesity is a big problem in the Coachella Valley. If a gallon of soda costs more than $1 more, maybe more kids will learn to like the unleaded variety. But it also smacks of social engineering by the government, the kind conservatives loathe.
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