FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2013
General Counsel & Press Secretary
AUSTIN — Today, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) announces the filing of a bill imposing a fee on soda manufacturers. The bill would help fight obesity, while also increasing revenue to the state.
"Rising obesity rates among children and adults increases instances of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions that negatively impact the quality of life. These conditions also have grave consequences on our already over-burdened healthcare system," Senator Lucio said. "We need to at least have a discussion about enacting laws that would simultaneously improve the health of Texans and generate more revenue for vital state health services."
Senate Bill 493 would impose a one penny per ounce fee on soda. Senator Lucio filed a similar bill in 2011. This Session, the bill would place the tax on the manufacturer, rather than directly on consumers, thus making revenue collection easier.
This Session's version of the bill was recommended by the 2013 Government Effectiveness and Efficiency Report (GEER), a publication of the non-partisan Legislative Budget Board (LBB). A state agency tasked with assisting in the budget-writing process each Legislative Session, the LBB is also charged with identifying budget inefficiencies and suggesting solutions. It was the GEER report that suggested taxing manufacturers rather than consumers.
Creating a statewide tax on soda could generate millions of dollars in state revenue. According to The Rudd Center for Food Policy, by imposing the tax, the State could generate $1.1 billion in 2014 and 2015.
Senate Bill 493 will also aid in curbing the state's growing obesity problem. According to The Trust for America's Health, Texas is the tenth-most obese state in the nation. Obesity acutely impacts the Rio Grande Valley. For instance, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area in Senator Lucio's district was ranked America's fattest metropolitan area in 2012, with 38.8% of the population considered obese. According to the GEER report, such measures will deter the consumption of sugary drinks and help lessen the state's obesity problem.
Senate Bill 493 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.