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Philadelphia Asks State Supreme Court Not To Hear Beverage Tax Lawsuit

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The city of Philadelphia is asking the State Supreme Court not to hear a soda industry appeal of the lawsuit challenging the sweetened beverage tax. The mayor says the suit is blocking progress in his anti-poverty agenda.

The city's lawyer responded to the soda industry request for an appeal hearing, arguing, "The programs to be funded by the tax are crucially important to the public welfare, while resolving (the industry's) two legal questions is distinctly mundane."

The industry had asked the court to decide whether the beverage tax is a sales tax or is not uniform, as required by state law.

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Two lower courts have already ruled it is neither and is legal.

The tax has brought in nearly $40 million, but the city won't spend it till the suit is resolved, which Mayor Jim Kenney says is preventing pre-K expansion.

"So instead of having 3,000-3,500 kids starting in September, we have 2,000, so it slows us down and our kids can't wait," Kenney said.

The money from the one and a half cent an ounce tax is also earmarked for community schools and city facilities renovations.

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