Texas lawmaker proposes soda tax

Rep. Joe Farias says tax on sugary drinks would benefit children's health, education

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

AUSTIN, Texas - We already pay taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, so could your favorite soda be next? A Texas lawmaker has proposed a soda tax that would levy a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks.

The tax would be applied to any carbonated or non-carbonated drink containing natural or artificial sweeteners. The proposal does not cover sports drinks, juices or diet sodas. While the concept may seem harsh, the lawmaker pushing for the tax said it would improve children's health.

State Rep. Joe Farias, a Democrat from San Antonio, filed House Bill 779 proposing the tax.

Farias spoke to Local 2 from the Texas State Capitol Thursday. According to Farias, the idea is not to stop people from enjoying sugar drinks, but rather to raise much-needed funds for public education.

"I believe the state has got to make an effort to find money somewhere," said Farias.
Farias said the soda tax would generate some $2 billion, 80 percent of which would go to the Texas Education Agency. 20 percent would go to school health programs.

"It's a 'twofer.' Here you get to fund your schools that your children are going to benefit from with better teachers or more teachers or support personnel and they're also going to benefit by hopefully living a healthier life."

Local 2 Facebook fans were asked about the soda tax, and it generated a lot of comments.

Stephen Daniel Dominguez wrote, "Go for it. It's a penny most won't miss. We got one of the fattest states in the union and the highest insurance premiums in the country."

But Alana Johnson said, "Why should I have to pay taxes to ensure someone else's child has good nutrition?! There are enough programs already in place for children nutrition."

UTHealth dietitian Carol Wolin-Riklin had a different take on the issue.

"That would be really nice if they would take some of that money that was raised and they put it toward gym classes for the children in schools," said Wolin-Riklin.

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