Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont wants his state to be the first to pass a state-wide tax on sodas and sugary drinks.
The new tax is one among many included in the Governor’s budget proposal.
If implemented, a 1.5 cents/ounce tax would be added to the sale of all sugar-sweetened drinks.
Soda taxes are both unpopular and ineffective. In Cook County, Illinois, a 1 cent soda tax – backed by the same group associated with Bloomberg’s soda tax in NY – was so unpopular with residents that it was repealed in under a year. Further, such taxes hurt local businesses without significant revenue increases to show for it. In fact, sales tax hikes in general have historically done little to address state budget shortfalls.
A soda tax, like all other sales taxes, is inherently regressive. Governor Lamont’s tax hike thus would serve to hurt not only local businesses, but Connecticut’s already struggling poorer families, with presumably little to show for it.
Even Bernie Sanders chastized Hillary Clinton for supporting a soda tax, saying:
“The mechanism here is fairly regressive. And that is, it will be increasing taxes on low income and working people.”
“Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge.”
A 2012 study by Tax Foundation found that the tax burden 1 cent/ounce hike was double that of a high income family for a low income family.
Tax Foundation also reports that soda taxes often fail to accomplish their public health ambitions. If soda becomes too expensive for their liking, consumers may choose to consume another potentially unhealthy drink in its place – studies have shown consumers replacing soda with beer, for example due to such soda taxes.
The facts are clear; the soda tax is unpopular, unfair, and ineffective in meeting both its revenue raising and public health aims. Governor Lamont needs to re-examine his budget priorities instead of levying unfair taxes against Connecticut consumers to pay for exorbitant spending.