Pro-tax advocates and lawmakers often sell beverage taxes to the public by claiming the revenue will go toward solving public health challenges like obesity. Then we see the money being spent on all sorts of budgetary priorities.
There are signs that this kind of bait-and-switch is brewing in San Francisco less than three weeks after a tax was passed there. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that politicians in the city are considering redirecting new revenue generated by the just-passed grocery tax from the originally planned health programs to other programs.
The wording of the tax allows the revenue to go anywhere, and it was written that way to avoid the supermajority of voters needed to mandate the way a tax is spent.
“For the revenue to be guaranteed for health purposes, the proponents would have had to structure the measure differently and gotten the support of two-thirds of voters,” the article notes.
This has revealed the tax to be nothing more than a convenient money grab for politicians who want more taxpayer funds for more spending on things like homeless services, government jobs and a $5 billion pension liability.
If we want to get serious about tackling public health issues, it starts with education – not burdensome taxes, laws and regulations that hurt consumers and small businesspeople. Slapping a tax on one item that makes up just 6 percent of the calories in the average American diet will not make people healthier, just poorer.
Find out more about the real and lasting change at balanceus.org.