By Thomas A. Farley
In the publicity about the first month's revenue from the Philadelphia beverage tax and the howls from the soda industry, the key point has been missing: The tax is working.
Children are getting educated in prekindergarten. The city is taking the first steps toward a massive rebuilding of parks, recreation centers, and libraries. Nine community schools are helping students and their families. The city is meeting its revenue projections, and the soda industry says sugary drinks sales have declined.
Mayor Kenney predicted that all of these things would happen. And opponents, at one time or another, claimed that none of them would.
The primary goal of the beverage tax was to pay for these investments in our city's children, families, and neighborhoods. And a secondary goal was to do it in a way that battled back the city's still-growing twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
Critics said that you couldn't do both. If people stopped drinking soda, they said, the city wouldn't have sufficient revenue for its programs or, alternatively, if revenue came in at projections, then people weren't significantly reducing their soda consumption.
But with the city's first revenue collections on track to meet annual projections and soda sellers reporting declines, the industry's predictions have been proved wrong, and so they are now shifting to fear mongering on job loss. Read more.