Tag Archives: Mayor Jim Kenney

Philly Grocery Tax Goes Viral

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The people of Philadelphia are suffering from sticker shock when they visit the grocery store. The City of Brotherly Love defied its residents by passing a huge grocery tax on most beverages, and they’re not happy about it. Images are going viral of receipts that show the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax impacting the wallets of everyday Philadelphians … in many instances the taxes are more than the price of the drink.

The Philly Grocery Tax is a mistake. While Mayor Kenney pitched his grocery tax as needed to fund early childhood education, the truth is that nearly 20 percent of the tax revenue raised will go to other government programs and budget priorities.

“The magnitude of this tax is historic and Philadelphian consumers can’t afford it,” said David McCorkle, CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association.

Philadelphia’s Regressive, Illegal Tax

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After winning the Democratic nomination in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Philadelphia mayoral candidate Jim Kenney kept pressing and campaigning ahead of the November 2015 elections. After the primary, the campaign focused almost exclusively on reducing poverty and expanding opportunity.

Kenney pledged to help people succeed in every neighborhood of Philadelphia.

However, after being elected mayor, Jim Kenney’s first major action wasn’t to expand economic opportunity. No, on the contrary, the Mayor deliberately and deceivingly targeted his city’s poorest residents with a regressive—illegal—tax on virtually everything in the beverage aisle.

While Mayor Kenney pitched his grocery tax as needed to fund early childhood education, the truth is that nearly 20 percent of the tax revenue raised will go to other government programs and budget priorities.

David Oh, a Republican who opposed the grocery tax, described the funding arrangement as misleading, saying that “This is not the narrative that had been told to the public.” And, Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, a Democrat on the City Council who supported the measure, said she had no idea revenue from the tax was targeted for other purposes.

So, here are the facts on the Kenney tax:

  • The 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax goes into effect January 1, 2017.
  • The regressive, highly unpopular tax will add 18 cents to the cost of a can of soda, $1.08 for a six-pack or $1.02 for a two-liter bottle.
  • The new beverage tax will be added on top of the already excessive 8% sales tax that applies to beverages in Philadelphia.
  • Yes, the tax is unpopular – 58% of residents oppose the measure.
  • Yes, the tax will disproportionately harm poor residents – economic studies show that low-income Americans spend a larger portion of their income on consumer goods like soda.
  • No, the tax revenue—as the Mayor promised—is not being reserved exclusively for an expanded pre-K program or city parks and recreational facilities.
  • No, the tax is not legal – experts are calling the tax unconstitutional.

A coalition of consumers, businesses, and unions have filed a lawsuit to stop Philadelphia from collecting the tax, maintaining that it’s illegal under state law.

Mayor Jim Kenney might have persuaded the City Council to support a grocery tax with back-room deals and eleventh-hour concessions to individual council members. However, such sweet-deals and political horse-trading will be out-of-bounds in the judicial system. What will matter in the end is if the Mayor’s legal team can persuade the courts that the grocery tax is legal under Pennsylvania law.

Many legal experts, including Ronald Castille—former Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania high court—have concluded that the Philly tax is illegal:

  • The Philly tax is a de facto sales tax and preempted by state law.
  • The Philly tax violates Pennsylvania’s state Constitution’s Uniformity Clause.
  • The Philly tax conflicts with the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Capitol Allies and its partners will continue to offer analysis and commentary on the Philly tax so to better inform the public discussion as the anti-tax fight moves through the courts.

Media Alert: Soda Tax

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Philly Passes Regressive Grocery Tax

Washington, DC – Philadelphia became the first major American city with a soda tax despite massive opposition to the regressive proposal. The City Council gave final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages. Mayor Jim Kenney said the new tax “will help improve education.” However, in the eleventh-hour the Mayor’s office announced that less than half of the projected revenue will be earmarked for education. Instead, millions of taxpayer dollars will be used for special projects and to plug holes in the City’s General Fund. Mayor Kenney sold the tax as a means to fund pre-K. Instead, his false promise proves that the public cannot trust government to do what it says when it comes to targeted taxes.

Capitol Allies remains steadfast in its opposition to such regressive, discriminatory taxation.

Mayor Kenney and the City Council ignored 58 percent of Philadelphians who opposed the regressive, discriminatory tax. A tax that will hit over a thousand grocery items. Capitol Allies has offered commentary stating that the tax is clearly illegal, violating Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution—or uniformity clause.

Capitol Allies and its partners will continue to offer analysis and commentary on the Philly tax so to better inform the public discussion as the anti-tax fight moves to the courts.

Media Contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / jerry@capallies.com

Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

Philly Soda Tax Unconstitutional

 

NOTax

The Philadelphia City Council is set to give final approval to a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax increase for sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks. A massive, regressive tax that will hurt Philly’s poorest residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) sold the tax by promising that the revenue will be used exclusively for “do-good” government programs, specifically a pre-kindergarten expansion. However, in an eleventh-hour bombshell the Mayor’s office informed the Council that less than half of the revenue will be earmarked for pre-K. Millions of dollars will be used to plug structural problems in the city’s budget.

Ronald D. Castille, a former chief justice of Pennsylvania, writes in Philly.Com that the Philadelphia Mayor and Council are pushing an unconstitutional soda tax:

“Mayor Kenney and City Council are in the process of violating the Pennsylvania Constitution” because “the proposed tax by the ounce is a thinly disguised sales tax.” The Mayor is trying “to claim that the tax is imposed on the distributor, not the consumer. The city implausibly believes the tax will not be passed on to the consumer.”  However, businesses ALWAYS pass the cost of all taxation onto their customers in the prices of the goods and services they sell.

This brings up Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The uniformity clause states:

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.”

“The city says the distributor will bear the burden of this tax. But a distributor in Reading or Altoona, for instance, would not have a similar tax on the distribution of these beverages. Consumers in other counties do not have to pay a similar tax on these beverages.” The former chief justice is right – the Philly soda tax is a clear violation of the uniformity clause.

 

Is Philadelphia’s Soda Tax Legal?  

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The Philadelphia City Council approved a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax increase for sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks. A massive, regressive tax that will hurt Philly’s poorest residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) sold the tax by promising that the revenue will be used exclusively for “do-good” government programs, including a pre-kindergarten expansion. However, in an eleventh-hour bombshell the Mayor’s office informed the Council that the revenue from the new tax will be used to plug structural problems in the city’s budget.

Mayor Kenney pushed through a massive, regressive beverage tax on a false promise.

In the same legislative session, the City Council also advanced a plan that offers tax credits to merchants who sell “healthy” beverages in their stores. So the Council is hiking the taxes on sugar-added and artificially sweetened beverages yet offering tax credits for “healthy” beverages.

In Philadelphia, not all beverages are equal under the law. However, Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution states:

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.”

The dictionary defines “uniformity” as “the quality or state of being the same.” Under these new proposals, will beverages be taxed uniformly in Philadelphia?

In the “same class of subjects,” Philly will reward tax credits to some beverages but punish other beverages with tax hikes. Is the City Council in violation of the Tax Uniformity Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution?

A final vote on the “soda” tax is expected to take place on June 16. Let’s hope Council Members take a look at the Pennsylvania Constitution and a Webster’s dictionary before the final vote.

Update: Philly’s Mayor Kenney Pushes Regressive Tax on False Promise of Expanded Pre-K

On June 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, lawmakers took a crucial vote on an important issue for taxpayers, families, and consumers. The plan from Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) would have imposed a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on more than 1,000 beverages. However, at the eleventh-hour the Mayor dropped a bombshell: a tax at 1.5 cents-per-ounce but spread out to both sugary and diet beverages, and the tax revenue would go toward the city’s fund balance. The Mayor promised that the new tax would be dedicated to initiatives like expanded pre-K. Instead, he pushed through a massive, regressive grocery tax on a false promise.

Mayor Kenney’s expanded grocery tax is excessive and it will drive down wages and kill jobs. His tax targets the poor and robs resources from families living paycheck to paycheck.

Capitol Allies is a staunch opponent of arbitrary, regressive taxation.

Before the City Council took the vote, in an effort led by Capitol Allies, a broad coalition of taxpayer and free market groups sent this coalition letter to the Philadelphia City Council asking them to reject Mayor Kenney’s grocery tax.

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No Philly Grocery Tax

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More than a dozen national pro-growth, pro-job, free-market advocates have released a coalition letter asking the Philadelphia City Council to oppose Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan to impose a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on more than 1,000 beverages—the Philly Grocery Tax. The proposed Philadelphia-only tax will—as former Governor Ed Rendell made clear—unfairly hurt the city’s poorest residents while its wealthiest citizens will be able to avoid the tax altogether.

Media contact: Jerry Rogers 202.302.9783 / Jerry@capallies.com

Jerry Rogers is the founder of Capitol Allies, an independent, nonpartisan effort that promotes free enterprise, and he’s the co-host of  The LangerCast on the RELM Network.

 

NewsBreaker: Philly Grocery Tax is Bad Education Policy

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Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) is pushing a regressive beverage tax which targets his city’s poorest residents. The Mayor claims his tax will raise $400 million to fund myriad government programs, including universal Pre-K. The problem is the Mayor’s plan is doomed to fail. It’s a false promise.

Education experts are unanimous on the point that the first and best teachers are parents and caregivers. However, the Mayor’s tax increase will force Philly parents to work harder and longer to pay their bills and taxes. Working longer hours means less time with their children.

In this special “News Breaker” segment, The LangerCast is joined by the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke.  Lindsey discusses the Philly tax in the context of education policy, and it’s not surprising that Mayor Kenney’s proposal receives a Failing Grade when it comes to what’s best for Philly’s students and their families.

Lindsey is a distinguished expert on education policy, and her work has appeared in a wide array of national media outlets, including The Atlantic, Time, Newsweek, The Boston Herald, The Star-Ledger, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, National Review Online as well as CNN and Fox News Channel.

Click here to Listen to our Special News Breaker segment: LangerCastNewsBreaker: Philly Tax is bad Education Policy

Education experts, economists, and many Democrats Agree: Philly Grocery Tax is a Terrible Idea

Jerry Rogers on TPA’s TaxpayerWatch talking CFPB & the Philly Grocery Tax

Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) is pushing a regressive beverage tax which targets his city’s poorest residents. The Mayor claims his tax will raise $400 million to fund myriad government programs, including universal Pre-K. The problem is the Mayor’s plan is doomed to fail. It’s a false promise.

Education experts are unanimous on the point that the first and best teachers are parents and caregivers. However, the Mayor’s tax increase will force Philly parents to work harder and longer to pay their bills and taxes. Working longer hours means less time with their children.

Economists are unanimous as well in their analysis that if you want less of something tax it more. How will this tax raise $400 million if Philly’s richest citizens simply shop outside the city limits? The poor will pay higher grocery bills, but the well-off will avoid the tax all together. The result will be hardship for low-income families, and a huge budget shortfall for universal Pre-K.

Many of the Mayor’s fellow Democrats are calling his tax unfair. Bernie Sanders—progressive champion and Democratic presidential candidate —recently wrote in Philadelphia Magazine “… I do not support Mayor Kenney’s plan to pay for this program with a regressive grocery tax that would disproportionately affect low-income and middle-class Americans.

Education experts, economists, and many Democrats agree the Kenney grocery tax is a terrible idea.

 

 

Philly’s Mayor Jim Kenney Targets Poor

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Mayor Jim Kenney (D-Philadelphia) wants to add universal pre-Kindergarten to the city’s public schools. However, the city is overtaxed and the schools are in distress.

The Mayor’s plan is to impose a beverage tax–3 cents per ounce–on the residents of his city. At a press conference announcing the massive tax, Mayor Kenney said, “… this is not personal toward Big Soda, but there’s a lot of money being made off the backs of poor people.”

Who will be pay the tax? Ed Rendell, the former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, said that Kenney’s tax “unfairly hits poor people.”  It’s Kenney who is seeking to raise money “off the backs of poor people.”

Experts in early-childhood care and education across the political spectrum agree that the first and best teachers for our children are parents and family members. However, Mayor Kenney has offered a tax scheme that will drain from families the earnings that would be better spent on quality child care, and cheat them out of the quality time devoted to their children.

Universal pre-K can be a worthy goal. However, it must be done right, not on the backs of Philly’s poorest families.

Click here to listen to our discussion of the mayor’s tax. We’re joined on The LangerCast by Michi Iljazi from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.