Every time you pop the tab on that icy cold Barq’s root beer think how much better it will taste paying the state 12 cents more to drink it, should the Legislature approve the new soda tax proposed by Lucio, D-Brownsville, according to today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Lucio makes a half-hearted pass at childhood obesity and the health care-related costs, excuses other states have used to passed soft drink taxes. However, Lucio says he thinks everyone ought to pay more for their soda, not so much so that we’ll all be in the pink, but because of the terrible fiscal fix he and his fellow legislators are in here in Austin. The soda tax could raise $2 billion a year.
"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."
The story also trots out an array of experts surmising and supposing on health and tax benefits, issues that have been raised in the past, and a critic who thinks Lucio and his colleagues ought to focus on spending less rather than on creative new ways to raise revenue.
Texas Watchdog wonders why Lucio is not considering raising state taxes on alcohol, arguably a much more serious and costly health problem in Texas. For whatever reason, the Legislature has not raised taxes on liquor, wine and beer since 1984.
The state tax on beer is 19.4 cents a gallon, or 1.82 cents a 12-ounce can, compared to the 12 cents Lucio is asking for the same sized-can of soda, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The tax on liquor is $2.40 a gallon or 2.8 cents for a typical 1.5 ounce shot poured in the local watering spot. Wine is a veritable bargain, taxed at 41 cents a gallon or about 8 cents a bottle, corked or screw-off cap.
Texas Watchdog, collectively, enjoys its cocktails far too much to be suggesting a bigger donation to the state for the privilege of drinking. Far from it. And we know very well why liquor taxes haven’t been raised in nearly 30 years.
For the same reason Sen. Lucio would rather take his chances on whether there is a soda lobby. The one for liquor everyone knows about.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo of vintage Sprite cans by flickr user Roadsidepictures, used via a Creative Commons license.