With important programs losing funding at every turn, California lawmakers are looking everywhere for answers about where to generate more revenue. One idea that is starting to pick up steam: a California soda tax.
The California soda tax bill (AB-669) was introduced by Democratic Senate majority leader Dan Florez, and would essentially apply a one-cent tax per ounce of soda and soft drinks sold. The California soda tax would be paid by the companies who bottle and manufacture said soft drinks, and would ideally fund statewide child obesity prevention programs ranging from PE classes to healthier school lunches.
Quite a few California cities are rallying behind the California soda tax, after seeing the potential revenue that such a tax on soda could bring. According to a report from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the tax on soda could annually net the state $1.7 billion in revenue, including $55 million for Sacramento County and $116 million for San Diego. Los Angeles County would reportedly see the biggest rewards, as much as $370 million per year.
“Local communities will be the direct beneficiaries of a soda tax," CCPHA’s Dr. Harold Goldstein told the San Francisco Chronicle . "A soda tax would return about $233 per student in the county to programs aimed at protecting the health and well-being of children. That's a smart investment."
Naturally, there are also detractors to the California soda tax proposal – the biggest among them is the American Beverage Association, supporting big names in the food industry like Coca Cola and Kraft Foods. Critics of the California soda tax cite an unfair burden on manufacturers at a time when everyone is struggling, business and consumers alike. Others accuse the California soda tax bill of being motivated more by alleviating the California debt crisis than solving childhood obesity. Still others point to California’s unpopular attempt at a snack tax in the 1990s, which failed under the weight of its scope and lack of focus.
The California soda tax bill requires a two-thirds vote within the state legislature to pass, which means it needs to meet the approval of at least four Republican legislators. With both sides passionately arguing their case, the only thing that’s for certain is that the tax on soda has an uphill battle ahead.