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.