Friday, February 13, 2009

Bottle Bill and Soda Tax Protest

The protest by supermarket owners and bodegueros-joined by Hispanic owned soda company executives-went off well at city hall yesterday. As El Diario reports: "Una coalición de bodegueros, propietarios de supermercados, trabajadores y embotelladoras hispanas de bebidas gaseosas, se congregó ayer en las escalinatas de la Alcaldía para protestar por la pretendida extensión de la ley estatal que agregaría un impuesto adicional de 18% a las sodas y dos centavos adicionales al depósito por envase."

And the leaders of the two trade associations came out strongly against both the tax and the expansion of the bottle bill. Here's Nelson Eusebio of the National Supermarket Association: "En la alcaldía, el ambiente era ayer de rechazo. “Simplemente no podemos permitirnos más regulaciones con recortes o impuestos”, dijo Nelson Eusebio, de la Asociación Nacional de Supermercados."

The Bodega Association also weiged in, worrying about the ability of small stores to survive and continue to empoloy their workers: "Ramón Murphy, de la Asociación de Bodegueros de EE.UU., indicó que Nueva York ha vivido de los pequeños negocios y son los que están soportando los empleos. “Si nos obligan a cerrar, la ciudad será una crisis total”, aseveró."

The soda execs were equally emphatic about the ill advised timing of the proposals-in the middle of an economic crisis: "Por su parte, Luis Jardines, de la distribuidora de Inca Kola, dijo que “es triste que, en estos momentos críticos, en que cada día se pierden miles de empleos, se quiera poner un impuesto adicional a un producto que consume el pueblo”.

So, with the budget crisis heading into the home stretch, the coalition will now take its case directly to the legislature in Albany. And the messsage is clear: keep these job killing measures away from the stores and businesses that help the low income and immigrant communities surviving during these tough times.

And the message is beginning to resonate, at least on the soda tax. As the NY Post reports: "Gov. Paterson has admitted that one of his most talked-about tax proposals - an obesity tax on sugary drinks - is fizzling. While meeting with college students to discuss his budget, the governor said they shouldn't worry about the tax because the Legislature won't go for it. Dubbed "the fat tax," the idea has been the topic of articles, editorials, polls, and radio and TV commentaries." If so, this is good news-with one bad idea down, and one to go.

New Update

The NY Daily News ran a nice photo-story on the press onference: "Bottle Bill? Can It! Bodega Owners Blast Plan as a Fat Tax Burden."But for some reason, the paper never posted it on line-at least we couldn't find it. (Here it is-finally!)Still, Adam Lisberg's story was right on point; with store owners railing against both the bottle bill as well as the "fat tax."

Nelson Eusebio's quote is the money one: "The governor doesn't have enough money because we're chasing small business out of the city of New York..." Eusebio also pointed out that New York has lost 100 NSA member supermarkets in the last four years.

Hats off to Councilman Martinez, as well; Martinez told the Daily News the following: "Still, City Councilman Miguel Martinez (D-Manhattan) said the cost of Paterson's plan would be borne by small businesses and average New Yorkers - not the financial companies and high-fliers who brought down the economy in the first place. "What you see here is what New York City is all about," Martinez said, gesturing to the store workers and bodega owners behind him. "These are not the individuals who are laying off. ... The ones that are laying off, that are getting all the stimulus package, are the big corporations."