NEW YORK Feb 12 New York City could raise $222
million a year from a proposed new tax on sugary soft drinks, a
move that could encourage people to switch to healthier
beverages, a fiscal monitor said on Friday.
The Independent Budget Office of the City of New York said
the new tax could be set at half a cent per ounce of soda.
That is about double a rate New York state's Democratic
Governor David Paterson proposed in the $136 billion state
budget plan he issued in January.
Paterson's proposal for the state was met with protests
from New York bottlers and vendors. Last year, the state
legislature rejected a similar tax hike proposal.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who this year added
a crackdown on the over-use of salt to his public health
agenda, has supported the governor's soda tax plan.
A mayoral spokesman had no immediate comment on whether the
city should adopt the budget office's proposal and impose its
own tax on sugary sodas, which have been linked to obesity.
Bloomberg would need the state's permission for a new city soda
About 35 percent of adult New Yorkers are overweight, 22
percent are obese and 9 percent have diabetes, the Independent
Budget Office said.
Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick also
proposed an 8 percent sales tax on sugary sodas.
In response to the tax proposals, Coca Cola (COKE.O) has
launched the Coca-Cola Civic Action Network, a nonpartisan
group that urges "education not taxation" on food and
New York City's Independent Budget Office issues an annual
report on ways the city could cut spending and raise revenue.
The new soda tax was one of nine new suggestions; there are
63 proposals on the agency's list, which includes ones that
have been repeatedly rejected by lawmakers, such as making
motorists pay tolls to drive over city bridges and tunnels that
are currently free.
The other new ways it proposed helping close the city's
multibillion deficits over the next few years include:
abolishing city-wide runoff elections, replacing 450 police
officers with civilians, and doubling the fee for a civil
marriage ceremony to $50. The report's web site is:
Though Wall Street's troubles have cost the city hundreds
of millions of dollars of tax revenue, Bloomberg on his weekly
Friday WOR radio show repeated his opposition to raising taxes,
such as the personal income tax, which he said could drive
people to move away.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Andrew Hay)