This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
A Philadelphia City Council committee has voted to approve an amended version of a soda tax proposal that would set a tax on sugary drinks as well as diet beverages.
Mayor Kenney’s initial proposal was for a 3-cent tax on sugary beverages only, but he lacked the votes to secure it.
If the deal is approved June 16, the city will tax sugary beverages and diet sodas at 1.5 cents an ounce.
During a hearing Wednesday that stretched on for hours, Councilman Bill Greenlee criticized the Kenney administration – which had proposed the tax for expanded pre-K and upgrades to city libraries and recreation centers – over a newly announced plan to use part of the money to bolster the city budget.
"I hope in the future we can get full disclosure," Greenlee said. "Because we heard it was all about the kids, all about the kids, and sometime this afternoon, we heard it’s also about the fund balance."
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said that although a deal on the tax is in place, the Council has retained some control by holding off on approving bills about how to spend the expected revenue from the soda tax.
"That money will now stay in the general fund, which means the administration will have to come back with full-fledged plans for pre-K, community schools, and the rebuild before they can move forward with the expenditures," said Quiñones-Sánchez.