Philadelphia’s new soda tax was sold as a way to help kids, but trade and teachers unions — and city government — also stand to be big winners from the 1.5 cents-per-ounce tax approved last week.
The tax is expected to generate $91 million in the first year and up to $386 million over five years. About a third of the money will go into the city’s general fund, where it can be spent on anything.
Mayor Jim Kenney, who endorsed the tax after being elected last year, wants to spend the money on building community schools and refurbishing parks and recreation centers around the city. Jobs created by those projects are expected to be snatched up by members of building trades unions, which have been vocal supporters of the tax.
Political heavyweight John Dougherty, who is head of the influential Local 98 electricians union and the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, reportedly blasted opponents of the soda tax earlier this year.
According to reports, during a meeting in City Council chambers in May, Dougherty went “toe-to-toe” with Danny Grace, the head of Teamsters Local 830, which opposed the tax. Dougherty reportedly also warned against crossing Councilman Bobby Henon, who also backed a soda tax, when he said, “If you [expletive] with my boy, I’ll [expletive] with you.”
Dougherty later told the Philadelphia Inquirer he didn’t have a “tussle” with the Teamsters boss and that he didn’t use foul language.
Click for more from Watchdog.org