Voters in Santa Fe Reject Measure to Implement Soda Tax

Voters rejected a measure in Santa Fe that would have increased soft drink taxes. This gave the beverage industry one of its rare victories following a series of defeats at different ballot boxes around the U.S.

The New Mexico capital ballot initiative had 11,533 votes against with just 8,320 votes for, announced the City Clerk’s office of Santa Fe late Tuesday. The initiative’s opponents had warned it would have increased the cost of one can of soda by close to 25 cents.

Tuesday’s vote came after taxes of a similar nature were adopted in 2016 in cities from San Francisco east to Philadelphia.

Outside groups as well as political committees spent over $3 million in the Santa Fe special election, with opponents supported by the soft-drink industry and the supporters by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg a billionaire and steadfast supporter of taxes for sugary beverages.

A number of beverages sweetened with sugar fell under this tax proposal including drinks associated with sports such as Gatorade, energy drinks, lemonade and ices teas, while pure juices and diet soda were both exempt.

The tax was proposed at 2 cents per ounce which would have tied it with the most expensive in the nation in Boulder, Colorado.

Proponents of the tax said it was designed to expand the city’s preschool to 1,000 more children most off which are from poorer families. Opponents portrayed this tax as a burden on working-class and poor families who would have prices skyrocket for items such as sports drinks, lemonade and soda.

Proponents of this tax, including Javier Gonzales the Mayor of Santa Fe, said the measure was needed to expand an all-important high quality preschool to more than 1,000 more children whose families are not able to afford it and to improve the public health by discouraging so much consumption of sugar.

Spending by political rivals included the American Beverage Association and local businesses against the backers of soda-tax such as Bloomberg, the American Heart Association, teachers unions, and the Catholic Church.

The measure’s opponents used mailbox flyers that included images of children tending to a lemonade stand.

Opponents also portrayed the city government of Santa Fee as loaded with cash in its mailers raising the anger of many city council members who said the surplus in the city was much too small to expand preschool.

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