After a City Council vote of 14 to 3, yesterday Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city in the country to pass a soda tax, despite opposition from local vendors and the big beverage industry.
Unlike other city’s attempts to pass similar taxes, Mayor Jim Kenney's goal with the 1.5-cent increase on soda and other sugary beverages was not presented as a way to curb rising obesity rates. Instead, the main motive was for proceeds from the taxes to improve Philadelphia’s large and increasing poverty problem through education.
The Kenney administration estimates that the soda tax will raise about $91 million per year over a five-year plan. And while a lot of the focus has been on helping Philly’s early education system, millions of dollars will also fund other areas of the city, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article.
Here are four big ways the soda tax will affect Philly:
1. Nearly half of the funds raised will go toward pre-K education
The biggest chunk of the soda tax will go toward making universal pre-K more accessible to everyone and building better schools—25 of them. This matters, for many reasons, including the fact that Philadelphia’s struggling public school system is an often-cited reason for families and millennials leaving the city to live in neighborhoods with more promising school districts.
2. $48.8 million will go toward Kenney's Rebuild program
A large portion will also go toward fixing the city’s many parks, recreation centers, and libraries. A New York Times article called this move a "shrewd political choice in a city where district representatives want to show results in their community." The city's Parks and Recreation department could use it: It runs on a $60 million annual budget—that's below the national average and the lowest of the top 10 cities in the country, according to PlanPhilly.
Today was a big win—it'll be an even bigger victory for our kids who get pre-K, community schools & rebuilt parks, rec centers & libraries.— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) June 16, 2016
3. Cultural institutions will get just under $1 million
A number of museums, including the African American Museum and Historic Philadelphia, will also reap some funds from the tax. It is not clear exactly how these institutions will use the money.
4. Programs that help the homeless will receive $4.4 million
Health and Human Services will receive funds to help feed the homeless and care for the homeless youth. The Philadelphia Nursing Home will also benefit.
Taxes are not expected to be collected until January 1, 2017.
- A big chunk of soda tax will not go to pre-K [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Philly just became the first major city to pass a soda tax [Vox]
- It’s official, Philadelphia passes major soda tax [Eater Philly]
- Kenney seeking $300 million in bond sales to spend on parks, rec centers, libraries [PlanPhilly]