Voters in Santa Fe on Tuesday rejected a proposal to place a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to fund early childhood education in New Mexico’s capital city.
“The voters of Santa Fe – our neighbors for over 98 years – made their voices heard,” said Kathy Hart, vice president of HR, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Santa Fe. “We agree with their decision that this proposed tax would have been very harmful to Santa Fe consumers, local businesses, and an unsustainable way to fund such an important program as pre-K. Our family-owned and operated business has been proud to call Santa Fe home for six generations and we look forward to continuing to support the Santa Fe community.”
The Coca-Cola Company believes that beverage tax proposals like this one disproportionately impact low-income families and hurt our local customer’s business. Additionally, singling out one product category, like nonalcoholic beverages, is an unreliable way to fund important local initiatives like pre-K.
In June 2016, the Philadelphia City Council passed a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages despite a poll showing that nearly 60 percent of residents were against it. This sentiment is consistent across most of the U.S.; over the last nine years, more than 40 beverage tax proposals have been rejected across the country.
The Philly tax, which took effect Jan. 1, impacts more than than 1,000 beverages – from sports drinks and teas to juice boxes and zero sugar beverages. As a result, restaurants and stores have been forced to boost beverage prices and reduce inventories.
Coke’s business in the City of Brotherly Love is taking a hit, too. “In retail and grocery stores, our volume is down 32 percent year-to-date in the city and dropping further each week,” said Fran McGorry, president and general manager of the local Coca-Cola bottler known as Philly Coke, which has been in business for 115 years and currently employs more than 700 people.