Texas considers soda tax to ease budget woes

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 15, 2011 

Picking up a six-pack of soft drinks could soon cost Texans more.

A penny per ounce more, to be exact.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, is proposing increasing the taxes on sodas -- both regular and diet, and energy drinks too -- to raise money for the state and cut down on obesity in children and adults.

That means a typical 12-ounce Diet Dr Pepper could cost 12 cents more at a grocery or convenience store. A six-pack of Coke would cost an extra 72 cents. And a 24-count box of Big Red would cost an extra $2.88.

"There are solutions to the budget mess we find ourselves in which do not involve making drastic cuts to vital services," Lucio said. "The Texas Legislature should be exploring these solutions."

As state lawmakers face a multibillion-dollar shortfall -- and making cuts to education and social services to balance the budget -- Lucio said his proposal could raise an extra $4 billion every two years.

"We've got to have alternatives other than cuts," Lucio said. "This bill would help retain teachers and critical medical services."

Critics say they don't think a soft drink tax will do the trick.

"Texas politicians must cut down on their spending binges instead of making citizens swallow this not-so-sweet tax," said J. Justin Wilson, a senior research analyst at nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington, D.C.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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