Baker is no fan of proposed soda tax

Governor says it would hit low-income residents particularly hard

BOSTON (WWLP-State House News Service) – Count the proposed soda tax among the revenue generating ideas that Gov. Charlie Baker is not willing to consider. A day after proponents pitched legislation to levy an excise tax on sugary drinks as a way to both generate money for the state and promote good health, Baker dismissed the idea.

“I don’t think we should be raising taxes, and I’ve said that before, especially not a tax that hits low-income people a lot harder than it hits everybody else,” Baker told reporters on Wednesday.

People 22News spoke with on the subject agreed with the governor’s assessment.

“Sugary drinks are cheaper, and that’s what they go after. Anything cheaper is what they can afford. I think it’s going after people unfairly,” Robin Milikowski of Connecticut said.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Jason Lewis and Rep. Kay Khan (H 3329/S1562) could raise $368 million, according to the lawmakers, and encourage people to choose drinks that don’t contribute to obesity and other ailments.

Any drink with more than five grams of sugar per serving would be taxed at one cent per ounce.  That means a 20 ounce bottle of soda (which contains two servings) would come with a 40 cent tax.

While supporters acknowledge the tax would hit low-income communities harder than other, they say the revenue could be used to fund programs drinking fountains and other nutritional programs that would benefit them.

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