Gov. Chris Gregoire has taken an important step toward protecting vital services for children and families by proposing more than $605 million in new state revenues, but much more is needed to protect families and children in this time of crisis.
The governor’s proposal would help sustain a portion of the safety net services that help families make ends meet during this cruel recession, which are at risk of being cut without new revenue. An important new development is that the proposed revenue options include increasing taxes on products that contribute to poor health and nutrition for children.
The Children’s Alliance strongly supports the proposal to tax soda and other carbonated beverages, but the governor’s proposal would raise just $93.6 million. The proposal we’re urging lawmakers to adopt is a penny-per-ounce tax on any sugar-sweetened drink – including sport and energy drinks and ready-to-drink coffees and teas – which would raise an estimated $315 million, or more than $400 million if diet soda were added to the list.
Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages is an emerging trend across the country. And here in Washington, it feeds into a growing “healthy communities” movement that promotes efforts such as making fresh fruits and vegetables more widely available to kids.
“This new revenue is a necessary first step needed to help Washington maintain important commitments to families, such as making sure all children have access to affordable, preventive health care,” said Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children’s Alliance. “It’s also good for kids because in the long run, it will reduce consumption of soda and sweets, which contribute to chronic diseases and the steady rise in childhood obesity.”
We also support extending the sales tax to candy and gum, which the governor says would raise $28 million), and repealing a tax credit for makers of soda pop syrup, raising $7.7 million.
We cannot cut ourselves out of the revenue crisis Washington state faces. It is crucial that the Legislature raise new revenue to prevent devastating cuts like the one proposed for Working Connections, which puts affordable child care within reach of thousands of hard-working parents across the state.
We applaud the governor for opening the door to some sensible plans for protecting important services, but call on our lawmakers to take even bolder steps to raise significantly more revenue.
Read more about the concerns we share with advocates across the state in this news release from the Rebuilding our Economic Future Coalition (of which the Children’s Alliance is a member).
Read more about the governor's tax proposals in her news release and in the letter she sent to lawmakers, "A Balanced Approach for Hard Times."
And find out more about the work the Children’s Alliance’s does as a member of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition.
– Liz Gillespie