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Sen. Foley Leads Opposition to Paterson Beverage Tax

Submitted by on February 10, 2010 – 9:42 AMNo Comment
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Smithtown, NY – State Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) today led a rally of beverage industry workers against Governor Paterson’s proposed 50 percent tax on soda and other drinks.

“We must stand up for the working men and women on Long Island and across New York State,” Foley said.  “I am opposing this tax because it will cost precious jobs, and increase costs on families on tight budgets. Together, we will defeat this tax and protect jobs, thereby growing our local economies and turning the corner on this economic recession.”

Foley’s comments came during a rally at the Smithtown Coca-Cola Bottling Co. facility on Thursday. Foley, who serves on the Senate Economic Development Committee, told workers at the facility that he would do everything he could to save their jobs.

Employment levels at beverage industry facilities across the state could be curtailed as a result of the Governor’s proposed tax. If the Governor’s proposed tax goes through, soda would be taxed at ten times the rate of beer.

Michael Chidester, Sales Center Manager for Smithtown Coca-Cola Bottling Co., said: “We’re thrilled that Senator Foley understands the dire consequences of this tax hike and has agreed to lead the fight against it.”

Joseph Wojciechowski, President of Teamsters Local 812, said: “To single out the soft drink industry for a tax is a costly mistake. In these tough economic times, New York cannot afford to bleed anymore middle-class jobs.”

Thomas Cullen, Vice President of Government and Industry Relations for the King Kullen Grocery Company, said: “This tax on beverages is a regressive tax that will hurt families during difficult economic times. The retail food industry works hard to keep prices down for our customers, but this tax will severely drive up cost to consumers.”

Nelson Eusebio, Chairman of New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes, said: “New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet in this economy shouldn’t bear the burden of fixing the Governor’s budget problems. Thankfully, Sen. Foley and his colleagues understand this and are working on our behalf.”

Governor Paterson proposed the beverage tax in his state budget address last month. Unlike the 18 percent retail surcharge on soft drinks that was proposed last January and later withdrawn, this year’s tax is an excise tax on a wide variety of beverages, including soda, iced tea, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and any other non-dairy beverage except diet or very low or no calorie drinks. Industry officials say the hidden tax on these beverages will result in across the board price hikes of 50 percent or more for consumers.

A study last year by Dunham and Associates projected job losses of 6,100 based on imposition of an 18 percent tax. The new tax, an additional tax of 50 percent on top of some of the highest taxes in the country, is expected to result in significantly greater job loss.