Topeka — Soda bottlers and distributors in Kansas are lobbying against a proposed tax on sugary drinks.
Dozens of employees for bottling companies came to the Statehouse Tuesday to meet with members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The committee is drafting a proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. It’s likely to require tax increases.
One proposal before lawmakers is a penny-per-teaspoon tax on the sugar in soda and other beverages.
Kevin Morris, a vice president for a Lenexa-based Coca-Cola bottling company, says the tax would amount to a levy of 30 percent to 50 percent on soda products. It would be about 10 cents per 12-ounce can.
“We’re concerned,” Morris said. “It would result in lost jobs.”
The proposed soda tax would raise $90 million a year. Legislative researchers say it would increase the cost of a 12-ounce can of soda by 10 cents; beverage industry officials say a 2-liter bottle would cost 56 cents more.
Morris said the tax would amount to a levy of 30 percent to 50 percent, depending on the product.
The tax would apply to packaged sweetened, nonalcoholic beverages, including soda, root beer, ginger ale, lemon-lime drinks and beverages that are 10 percent or less “natural” fruit or vegetable juice.
Only three states — Arkansas, Washington and West Virginia — have such a tax, said Dan Thorp, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. Thorp said the Kansas proposal is unusual because the tax would vary with the amount of sugar in each drink.
“It would be a logistical nightmare,” he said.
But Thorp said the biggest concern is increasing costs for consumers — and a resulting drop in sales. Morris said about 14,000 jobs are tied to the industry in Kansas.
The industry is sponsoring full-page ads in eight Kansas newspapers and plans to broadcast radio ads across the state, Thorp said.