SANTA FE, N.M. — As president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), I have the privilege of representing 4.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses that together contribute $668 billion to our American economy every year. We also advocate on behalf of over 260 major U.S. corporations. We do this through our network of over 200 local chambers of commerce and business associations nationwide.
The USHCC opposes any tax that impedes economic growth and creates a difficult environment for small businesses. We especially disapprove of regressive taxes that hurt low-income communities because of an elitist view of what is “best” for such consumers. We believe that consumers should have the right to determine for themselves what is in their best interest.
We are disappointed to learn of a recent move by the Santa Fe Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to align itself with a pro-tax political action committee that supports the beverage tax on Santa Fe residents. The USHCC does not support regressive taxes that hurt consumers and our small-business community.
We understand that Mayor Javier Gonzales is pushing a two-cent-per-ounce tax on beverages with sugar in the city, with the assumption that it will solve the city’s education funding problem. Translated into dollars and cents, this would add roughly $3 to a 12-pack of soda. The reality is that Santa Fe residents will likely be driving to Albuquerque or nearby pueblos to avoid paying this draconian tax. While we understand the complexities surrounding tight city budgets and the need to generate revenue, the reality is that taxing people’s habits as a way to deter behavior simply hasn’t proven successful.
If mayors were committed to the well-being of their residents, they should join in a partnership with the beverage industry to encourage healthy choices in beverage consumption. In addition, they could craft long-term plans that exceed the tenures of local mayors instead of short-term taxes that benefit their political careers.