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Proposed CA Soda Tax Fails for 4th Time. Time to Find REAL Solutions to Obesity.

For the fourth time since 2010, a tax on sweetened beverages like soda, fruit juices, teas and sports drinks failed to pass either a legislative or ballot initiative vote in California.

Senate Bill 622 (Monning), a $2 billion statewide “soda tax,” failed to pass today out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, meaning the bill has no chance of becoming law this year. Senator Bill Monning proposed similar legislation in 2010, which also failed to pass out of committee.

There’s still time for politicians in the state’s capitol to draft a new proposal to tax soft drinks, but it too would likely go down in defeat – just like all the others.

In 2012, voters in two California cities overwhelmingly defeated ballot measures to tax sweetened beverages, despite histories of supporting local taxes: 

  • Richmond, Calif. is a city outside of San Francisco where Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 7 – 1 and the city’s voters traditionally support new taxes. In fact, they passed three local taxes on the Nov. 2012 ballot. But they opposed Measure N by 67 percent, which would have placed a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.
  • El Monte, Calif. is a city outside of Los Angeles with a history of supporting local tax increases. In 2008, voters passed a ½ cent sales tax increase, making their local tax rate one of the highest in the nation. But they opposed Measure H by 76 percent, which would have placed a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.

Over the past several years, approximately 30 states and cities across the country have proposed or introduced beverage taxes.  All have failed.

We agree that obesity is a serious and complex issue.  However, it is misleading to suggest that soft drink consumption is uniquely responsible for weight gain. In fact, only four percent of calories in the average American diet are derived directly from soda. A regressive tax on soft drinks won't make Californians healthier, but it would increase their cost of living with higher prices at the grocery store. 

It’s time for California politicians to focus on real matters of concern to Californians – like creating job opportunities – rather than counting the calories they consume each day and recycling failed tax proposals.


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