Santa Fe Mayor proposing special election for sugary-drink tax

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is calling for a special election for voters to decide the fate of a controversial tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. If approved, voters could decide May 2.

Rather than waiting until the March 2018 Municipal Election, Mayor Gonzales wants the question of a two-cents-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks like these to go before voters within 60 days.

The issue of the special election is being presented at Wednesday’s council meeting by Councilor Christopher Rivera and Mayor Gonzales.

Mayor Gonzales has stood strongly in favor of the tax that he says will fund early childhood education programs in the city.

He says right now there are more than one thousand three and four year old children who could miss out on high quality pre-k education if there isn’t a dedicated source of revenue coming into the city through this sugary drink tax.

Mayor Gonzales adds that many families without access could be forced to pay between $900 and $1400 a month for pre-k education.

That’s why he’s pushing the issue to go before voters now.

“The longer that we wait, that just means that those three and four year olds won’t have access. They’re going to enter kindergarten further back than they should and that just creates educational challenges as they move up towards education,” said Mayor Gonzales.

The proposed tax has had its fair share of opposition. The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Santa Fe said it would have to close its doors if the tax were to go through.

If council does not approve of this special election, there is an alternative resolution on Wednesday’s agenda. It calls for the question to be put on the ballot during the March 2018 Municipal Election.

The proposal has already gone before numerous committees. A public hearing and vote on the proposal is expected to take Wednesday night.

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