“Stop the Tax Hikes on Food & Beverages” is the rallying cry of bottlers trying to collect enough signatures to put Initiative 1107 on the ballot.
The campaign website for I-1107, at stopgrocerytaxes.com, went up Tuesday, the group backing it said.
Bottlers hit the streets Friday the day after ballot language was approved, asking people to sign in support of rolling back new taxes on soda pop, bottled water, candy and gum, plus a limitation on a tax exemption that will leave makers of some processed foods paying more.
Supporters have also sent out petitions by mail with a letter criticizing the taxes for being arbitrary – taxing Snickers, but not Twix, for example. The forms are already coming back signed, spokesman Robert Gara said.
Supporters have limited time but a lot of money. They’re financed largely by the American Beverage Association, the trade group representing soft drink makers and bottlers around the country.
Opponents are pushing a “Decline to Sign” campaign. They’re asking people to call and e-mail when they see signature gatherers.
Today they criticized the bottlers’ mailer for emphasizing the “food” part of the taxes. The $4 million change for makers of processed food like soup and chili is a fraction of the more than $100 million tax package. “They’re essentially lying to the public about what Initiative 1107 is really about,” spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said.
Not so, Gara said: “The reality is, these taxes increase taxes on Washington food companies.”