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Race to the pop

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
March 26, 2010 1:42 pm

It’s beginning to seem like lawmakers may have to come up with new tax ideas to resolve their impasse, and advocates of raising taxes have a suggestion for a target: soda pop.

The idea of an excise tax on carbonated beverages isn’t exactly new: Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed 5 cents per 12 ounces, saying it would raise $94 million a year. But lawmakers didn’t include it in their budgets.

The pro-revenue Rebuilding Our Economic Future Coalition backed by labor and health care groups ran a full-page ad in The Olympian today calling the tax a way to “break the budget bottleneck,” not to mention “help turn the tide on childhood obesity” by discouraging drinking of sugary beverages.

Specifically, the group calls for “adding just a few pennies to the cost of soda pop and other sugar-sweetened beverages.”

A broad tax on sugary drinks could raise upwards of $300 million, coalition spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said.

Kaushik said a tax not proposed by either House or Senate might be just what is needed to break through each chambers’ reservations about the other’s plans:

“They’re searching for solutions, and that’s one we think would be a fair way to help address the budget shortfall and potentially help to end the deadlock.”

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