Food Policy

California's Proposed Soda Tax Is for Your Own Good and Totally Not a Money Grab

The Nanny State meets the budget crisis


Worse than opium dens
Credit: cobalt123 / / CC BY-NC-SA

When two cities in California defeated a proposed tax on sugary drinks last November, I pointed out the foolishness of the effort beyond just the Nanny State manipulation. If passed, it would drive consumers to other nearby cities and ultimately end up hurting small businesses and grocery retail employees the most, people who tend to fall on the poor end of the economic spectrum.

So, obviously, California's solution for such a problem would be to try to enact the tax statewide. A Senate bill by Bill Monning (D-Monterey) would add a tax of one cent for every ounce for any sweetened drink of more than 25 calories. The legislation passed a state Senate committee earlier this week.

In order to market this exorbitant tax, which, again, will affect the poor the most, Monning is also proposing a Children's Health Promotion Fund and promising the taxes collected will go to child obesity prevention efforts and totally not to close the funding gap on state employee pensions or to reduce the state's deficit cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die. Pay no attention to that last tax increase everyone was told would go to halt school cutbacks but might actually end up going to educators' retirement funds instead. And pay no attention to the recent funding that was supposed to provide healthier lunches for poor students in public schools that was misappropriated and spent on other things while the kids were fed crap. Despite California's lengthy history of money not going where Sacramento says the money is supposed to go, this will be totally different. That proponents are already estimating $2.6 billion in revenue for the first year is just to tell us how much good they can do with it.

Read the full Senate bill here.