OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state voters have rolled back new taxes on candy, gum, pop, bottled water and some processed foods.
Initiative 1107 was winning by about 63 percent to 37 percent in unofficial returns. More than half the expected votes had been counted.
Washington state consumers started paying more for soda, candy and gum this year amid a nationwide push to impose higher taxes on sugary foods. But the soft drink industry is fighting back.
Opponents of the Washington tax responded by gathering enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot seeking to overturn the law. I-1107 repealed the tax on carbonated beverages and bottled water, the sales tax on candy and gum, and to reduce business and occupation rates for some food processors.
The American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., has played a big role in the effort, demonstrating yet again the political muscle of the soft drink lobby.
The industry spent more than $14 million and counting to overturn the Washington tax in a November ballot measure, hoping to stop the movement dead in its tracks and send a powerful message to states contemplating similar efforts.
The “no” campaign, which comprised a coalition of unions, community health groups and other advocacy groups, had raised only about $340,000.
The taxes were expected to bring the state $352 million over five years, with local governments set to receive about $89 million over that same time.