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Soda tax is the wrong way to fund pre-K

SANTA FE, N.M. — ​I​ would like to take this opportunity to clarify some misinformation about Santa Fe’s proposed beverage tax.

This is not a “small tax.” This is a significant tax that will more than double the price of some beverages. The tax is 2 cents per ounce, which can really add up when you buy packages like 12 packs and 2 liters for your family. In fact, this would be the highest tax on food and beverages in New Mexico and in the entire country! Prices could double on hundreds of everyday beverages — not only soda but teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, even flavored waters and powdered drinks like lemonade.

Also, let’s be clear: A NO vote on the tax is NOT a vote against pre-K. We’ve always said there is a better way. Taxing beverages alone is not a sustainable funding source. As a longtime supporter of this community, we want better pre-K options for everyone living here. A better way to fund priorities like pre-K is through a stable, broad-based tax that everyone pays, including businesses, to help fund education. Of course beverage purchases will decline when prices skyrocket. That means beverage tax revenues will keep dropping as people reduce their purchases or go outside the city to avoid the tax.

Like many of our restaurants and retail stores, we are small margin businesses. We cannot afford to absorb the tax and be the sole funders for pre-K. It’s hard to see how a tax like this won’t hurt our employees and the people we serve in grocery and convenience stores and restaurants.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg got a beverage tax passed in Philadelphia, and we are seeing real-world examples of its negative effects. Just Google it and you’ll see lots of media coverage on job losses, store closures and angry, confused shoppers. And Bloomberg’s Philly tax is lower than the one he is spending his money on to pass in Santa Fe! Santa Fe is the City Different. Let’s keep it that way!

The Hart family has been the local Coca-Cola bottler in Santa Fe for 98 years; that’s six generations of living in and contributing to our community. We have loved being a part of this unique community for so many years. We look forward to another 98 years and urge you to vote NO today.

Hart is vice president and HR manager at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Santa Fe.

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