State leader wants sugary drinks taxed, lowered grocery tax

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 5:05pm

State Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, called Monday for passage of his bill to cut the state sales tax on groceries and pay for it with a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“Families have to buy food, but they can cut back on non-essential items like soda when times get tough,” said Stewart, who represents East Nashville. “This is one way to help a young family buy food without imposing a new tax on businesses that might hurt the economic recovery.”

Stewart’s bill, which is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the House Budget Subcommittee, would cut the state sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent. Stewart said his penny-an-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks would make up for the lost tax revenue to the state.

“For most families, this is a well-deserved tax break,” he said, saying he also hopes to lower the state’s childhood obesity rate.

10 Comments on this post:

By: sinkorswim on 3/28/11 at 3:58

This is my opinion. I dont drink liquor, beer. I dont drink a lot of coffee, but I do drink a lot of sodas. I am an older adult, in fair shape for my age, and I drink a boat loads of sodas. I spend more on sodas per month, than most people pay for their water bills. I dont drink water, taste like crap!! Tap or bottle. TAX my sodas, and I promise you that I will start buying them in KY, just like alot of people do with tobacco. I average close to $300 a month in sodas, just for my household. I eat well, I exercise and when I do I DRINK SODAS! TAX them, go ahead, I DARE you, then you will have one less employee for the soft drink industry, by my hand UNEMPLOYED!! Mutiply that times the number of people who feel like me. Guess I could start drinking beer and liquor like I do sodas, then we will really be in a pickle, pickled livers that is.

By: MIkeR on 3/28/11 at 4:23

Here's an idea that democrats might not be aware of CUT SPENDING!
TAX TAX TAX is all they know. I am sick and tired of all these new taxes they are coming up with. Enough is enough...they are looking at another Boston Tea Party if you ask me.

By: PromosFriend on 3/28/11 at 4:23

Start with sodas and the next step will be french fries and twinkies. Fat people will be fat no matter what tax the nanny government puts on sodas or other sugary foods. A lower food tax is desireable but a "nanny" tax is not. I'm sick and tired of social engineering via legislation on how people spend their money. Oh, and I probably drink less than a dozen sodas a year. They are unhealthy and a waste of money, but that is my personal opinion - one that I don't try to force onto other people. I'd just as soon the government would quit trying to force behaviorial changes on stuff we do that is legal.


By: house_of_pain on 3/29/11 at 4:08

Bad idea. No thanks.

By: conservarage on 3/29/11 at 6:18

don't we go through this same thing periodically with cigarettes? tax cigs, use the money somewhere else, then people smoke less, the tax money dries up, then we are scrambling to replace it - repeat process.

it just doesn't work - no matter which side of the political spectrum you are on,

By: girliegirl on 3/29/11 at 7:03

Actually, cigarette smoking is UP in certain age groups of girls/women.

By: girliegirl on 3/29/11 at 7:04

Next, it'll be SALT...according to the mayor of NYC

By: Antisocialite on 3/29/11 at 7:14

conservarage said:
on't we go through this same thing periodically with cigarettes? tax cigs, use the money somewhere else, then people smoke less, the tax money dries up, then we are scrambling to replace it - repeat process.

it just doesn't work - no matter which side of the political spectrum you are on,

Well I guess you and I differ on the definition of 'works,' because when I see the above statement I think of the millions of dollars that we are saving in healthcare costs to those that have cut back or quit smoking... these costs aren't easily quantified though, so too often they are brushed aside. Mike Stewart even mentions health concerns, specifically lowering the state's childhood obesity rate as another goal of this tax... but I guess that wouldn't count as 'working' from a conservative's perspective.

You can whine all you want about the money eventually drying up, but only a complete pessimist thinks this recession will last forever; and if you have been paying attention the recession has been widely reported as the main reason state tax revenues are down. Incidentally, this is another unfortunate side effect (besides its inherent regressive nature) of having a sales tax as a primary means of generating revenue... when people get frugal, the entire state gets hurt monetarily. Yet once again this session we see Republicans scrambling for a way to pass a constitutional amendment against a state income tax... mind boggling!

Keep sticking your head in the sand... or in a woman's uterus... or in a gay couple's bedroom... or in a municipality's affairs Republicans, you're doing a great job! Oops, I didn't mean to say the j-word fellas, wouldn't want to highlight how little you've done on that front.

By: conservarage on 3/29/11 at 9:29

i didn't say anything about a recession. don't put words in people's mouths if you want them to take you seriously.

'sin taxes' = designed to keep people from engaging in those behaviors by raising the cost of engaging in said behaviors. as cost goes up, fewer will engage in them, revenues from tax will go down. it's basic economics.

nothing to do with either politics, or a recession, both of which you try to bring into the discussion. you mostly just want to vent, apparently, rather than use any logic.

By: Antisocialite on 3/29/11 at 2:50

I didn't put words in your mouth conservarage, work on your reading comprehension. The recession has everything to do with the issue at hand, and the fact that you don't even see that should be enough to cast serious doubt over your opinions on the matter. It is well documented that the recession is a major obstacle in the way of raising government revenue via sales taxes whether they are 'sin taxes' or not. Furthermore, only a total buffoon would argue that a tax increase, of any stripe, is NOT a political issue.

Have a grasp on basic economics and politics before you presume to lecture me on it.