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American Beverage Association Continues To Oppose Beverage Tax

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The American Beverage Association reported spending about $1.7 million in the first quarter of this year to oppose Philadelphia's beverage tax, including ads on TV and radio.

The spending includes an ad campaign calling for a repeal, but only city council can repeal the tax and even tax opponents, such as councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, say that's not happening.

"I don't think there is any sentiment in council to look at a repeal," said Quinones-Sanchez.

The Beverage Association ads cite an increase in property tax collections as evidence the beverage tax is unnecessary.

The administration says the increase, after years of recession-induced cuts, and with the threat of federal and state cuts looming, would not pay for the new programs in the mayor's anti-poverty agenda.

The one-and-a-half cent an ounce tax is for expanded pre-K, community schools, and a city facilities rebuild.

The ads suggest money in the city's capital budget for the Art Museum and a cap on I-95 could have been used instead, another assertion the administration says is misleading.

Industry spokesman Anthony Campisi stands by the ads.

"The mayor wanted to raise taxes to fund neighborhood improvements, but was able to find money in the existing budget to fund initiatives for wealthier neighborhoods," Campisi said.

Campisi concedes the ads' stated goal of repealing the tax is unlikely, as the tax is tied up in court and city council shows no sign of reversing itself, but says the industry is looking down the road for change.

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