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Senate Bill 1004 would add one penny per each ounce of liquid in a single soda or energy. It comes at a time when Texas lawmakers face a huge budget shortfall.
"We've got to have alternatives other than cuts," Lucio said. "This bill would help retain teachers and critical medical services."
Opponents of the bill criticized it as an attempt to affect consumers' consumption habits. "Taxes shouldn't be a tool for social engineering or an instrument to penalize Texans for doing nothing wrong," said J. Justin Wilson of the Center for Consumer Freedom. "Taxing soda and other beverages is enormously unpopular for a reason."
If passed, the bill could raise $4 billion every two years, said Lucio. The tax would cover carbonated and noncarbonated nonalcoholic drinks containing natural or artificial sweeteners. Beverages sold in restaurants would be excluded, as would beverages that are more than 50 percent vegetable or fruit juice and beverages containing milk, milk products, soy, rice or similar milk substitutes and infant formula. It would take effect Sept. 1, 2011.