The tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) proposed by Mayor Kenney, also known as the “soda tax,” is controversial mainly because, like other sales taxes, it takes a greater share of the income of poor families than rich ones. However, while the costs of the soda tax fall more heavily on those with low incomes, more of the benefit of the tax will go to low-income Philadelphians as well, for two reasons:
The first benefit of the tax flows from how the new revenue will be spent — on pre-K education, community schools, and parks and community recreation centers. Pre-K education helps kids from low- and moderate-income families have a better start in life. Studies have shown that children who attend pre-K programs score higher on academic tests and that these benefits are greater for those whose families have lower incomes. And the effects of Pre-K education are long lasting: long-term studies have shown that those who receive Pre-K education have higher IQs at age 5, have higher high school graduation rates, are more likely to own a home and have higher incomes at age 40.
On Thursday afternoon the official Twitter feed for the Pennsylvania House Republicans began circulating an infographic noting that Philadelphia would get 32 percent of the increase in school funding proposed by Gov. Wolf and asked the question “Do you want to pay a huge tax hike to support that plan?”
Several American cities have raised cigarette taxes as a public health measure and to generate local revenue for cash-strapped programs. These taxes are not as regressive as once assumed and can be an important part of a local funding package. Philadelphia has requested authorization from the General Assembly to add a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes sold in the city to raise an estimated $70-$90 million for its public schools.
A study identifying marriage as a factor in growing income inequality — specifically, the marriage of highly educated people to other highly educated people (resulting in higher incomes) — is a great example of "misdirection," Mark Price writes.
A group of Philadelphia education advocates issued a year-end report card to Philadelphia City Council and the Pennsylvania General Assembly on their work to fully fund the Philadelphia public schools.
"Pennsylvania’s experience with business tax reduction is instructive," PBPC Director Sharon Ward testified. "Since 1998, the Commonwealth has reduced taxes to the tune of $3 billion annually. These large tax reductions have not had the desired impact. When business tax reductions were first enacted Pennsylvania ranked 27th in job creation. By 2010 we had fallen to 34th."