Oregon initiative would tax soda pop, other sweet drinks

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by Tim Gordon, KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on January 10, 2012 at 8:47 PM

PORTLAND --  Backers of an initiative to tax pop and others sweetened drinks in Multnomah County say it will put people to work and give kids opportunities to exercise.

The initiative calls for a one cent per fluid ounce tax on most sweetened drinks including pop.

Proponents say the money would be spent on subsidizing small and medium-sized businesses if they hire unemployed workers. Money would also be spent to create jobs in schools for physical education positions, and to start new after school and summer activities aimed at improving health.

“The whole reason for the initiative is we look around and we see this huge number of folks who are unemployed and realistically I don’t see anything coming down from the federal, state or local government that’s going to change that in the near future,” said Portland Physician Gregg Coodley.

One local business owner likes the goals of the initiative, but not the effect he feels it would have on his bottom line.  David Yudkin runs Hotlips Pizza with his wife, and they added soda making to their business plan in 2007.  Yudkin doesn’t want to add 12 cents to a 12 ounce bottle of his soda pop.

“I think some people would still buy our soda it would narrow our market and we’re trying to grow our market and reach customers--  I think fewer people would look to us,” said Yudkin.

Proponents argue the initiative would raise $35 million in tax dollars, and add up to 4,000 jobs. 

They would need to gather 17,000 signatures from registered Multnomah County voters to get the initiative on the November 2012 ballot.

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