Relevant facts about PA’s tobacco tax…
It’s always hard to create something new. There’s always inertia to overcome and resistance to push against. Philadelphia’s proposed soda tax to fund quality pre-k, rebuilds of parks, rec centers and libraries, and 25 community schools is no different.
It was the same with the tobacco tax, as JoAnne Fischer, the executive director of Maternity Care Coalition, reminded City Council when she testified on Wednesday at the third public budget hearing.
She spoke to the critiques leveled at the soda tax, including its categorization as a ‘sin tax’ and concerns the tax would disproportionally impact low income families. She’d heard it all before.
“I can remember testifying when the PA legislature proposed establishing Health Insurance for Children based on tobacco taxes,” Fischer said.
“However, now we realize that first step was a very important beginning – toward establishing the value and infrastructure for what eventually became the CHIP program. PA led the way and became a model for the nation for a program that is currently primarily federally funded.”
This week, the Philadelphia Citizen released results from its soda tax poll, showing 59% of Philadelphians support the Mayor’s proposal (less than a third oppose it). But sit up and note this: A whopping 98% of those polled believed it was important for kids to attend pre-k (84% very important; 14% somewhat important; 2% not important).
Yes, people need to know that we’re working to enact a corporate tax, not a consumer tax, like in the case of tobacco, and certainly not a ‘grocery tax’ as Big Soda tries to fool us into believing.
But the 98% of us who see the same need for pre-k means we’re just looking for the best means to make it a reality. Wharton economist Robert Inman testified that the soda tax was the best means available, especially compared to the impact of a wage or property tax increase, a conclusion we keep hearing from experts.
Back to Fischer’s testimony to Council: “Now it is Philadelphia’s turn to lead the way as model for Universal Pre-K. If you see these parallels, I can promise you will be claiming your leadership and early support of Universal Pre K, the way so many of our current politicians fall over each other to tout their role in establishing the CHIP program.”
We don’t care who takes credit for it. We just need to get it done.
Click here to join the coalition and tell your council person to vote YES! to the soda tax.
Speaking of CHIP, take a few minutes to read a terrific post on the CHOP PolicyLab’s blog on the urgent need to fulfill the Commonwealth’s promise to provide healthcare coverage to all children. The post includes the story of Miguel, who had no coverage, and Maria, his sister, who did:
“Time and again he had seen Maria allowed to play outside with neighbors and join community sports teams because she had access to health insurance. Miguel, however, often had to stay inside to play and be constantly cautious because his undocumented status kept him from having the same access to health care as his little sister.” Read the rest HERE
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The Philadelphia Inquire estimates Big Soda has spent more than $3 million in their anti-tax campaign thus far to try to sway the 17 members of City Council to vote no. That’s $176,470 per vote! READ MORE
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