Anti-beverage tax group aims to take fizz from proposed “soda tax”

Image courtesy California Political Review

A group of pro-taxpayer and industry advocates have teamed up to launch an advocacy group called “Stop the Alabama Beverage Tax” as the specter of a new New York City-style tax on sodas and other drinks has emerged in Montgomery, according to an announcement Tuesday.

The coalition says it will band together in the face of the new proposal to increase state revenue by taxing beverages because the new tax would hurt poor and working families disproportionately and hamper Alabama’s competitive status among its low-tax neighbors.

“A soda tax will cost jobs, hurt our small businesses and raise grocery bills at a time when Alabama families are still recovering from a struggling economy,” said Virginia Banister, executive director of the Alabama Beverage Association and member of the new anti-tax group, in a prepared statement.

Banister, who says she along with her allies intend to make their case to lawmakers “loud and clear,” added that as the economy slowly begins to recover in the Yellowhammer State and across the nation, “there couldn’t be a worse time to risk jobs and force taxpayers to pay higher prices at the grocery store.”

Despite launching only this week, the campaign has already picked up a powerful ally: House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who intends to lead the charge against the soda tax plan favored by Gov. Robert Bentley and some Republicans in the Senate.

Hubbard says he opposes the proposal on principle.

“Rather than just picking out and say we’ll do this because it can generate this amount of money … [a soda tax is] the wrong way to look at tax policy,” Hubbard said Tuesday. “I don’t like picking winners and losers I don’t think that’s what we need to be doing.”

As the state Legislature convenes for a Special Session to finalize a budget hampered by a looming deficit — recently ameliorated by a state settlement with petroleum giant BP over the 2011 Deepwater Horizon oil spill — and an earlier veto by Bentley, the group says it expects “thousands of people and businesses” to join them in their cause.


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