Did you know that recently the Texas Finance Committee passed a new state budget that included $4 billion in cuts to public education? Were you also aware that the state of Texas estimates it will be shouldering $30 billion in annual health care costs related to obesity by 2030? How can our state generate new sources of revenue and also help curb the rising obesity problem?
State Sen. Eddie Lucio proposed a really great idea to the State Finance Committee – why not implement a penny-per-ounce soda tax? Afterall, one-third of Texas kids, ages 10-17, are considered overweight or obese and it is a known fact that soda consumption and obesity are highly correlated. Such a tax could raise as much as $2 billion a year or enough money to keep 20,000 Texas teachers on the payroll.
So when will the penny-per-ounce soda tax go into effect so we can save teaching jobs and help curb rising obesity in Texas?
Its NOT! Few senators stuck around to hear the senator’s proposal.
Well for one thing, this legislative session the Texas Beverage Association hired 10 registered lobbyists to keep an eye on the soda tax, Pepsi and Coca-Cola also hired help. Nationally, it is estimated that the soda industry spent $24 million lobbying against a national excise tax on sweetened beverages. In other words, the soft-drink industry spends a great deal of money ensuring that no such tax goes into effect which is unfair to us, the taxpayer, since we are footing a huge bill to pay for obesity-related health costs.
If you think this is a good idea and would like Sen. Eddie Lucio to try and present this bill again, write to him here.
Original story by Patricia Kilday Hart, ‘Soft-drink tax idea gets sour reception’, Houston Chronicle, April 24, 2011.