Santa Fe Voters Reject Michael Bloomberg's Soda Tax

Former NYC mayor poured $1.5 million into effort

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg / Getty Images
May 4, 2017

Another attempt by billionaire Michael Bloomberg to impose a soda tax failed Tuesday, as a record number of voters turned out against the measure in Santa Fe, N.M.

Bloomberg spent roughly $1.5 million supporting the initiative, which would have imposed a 2 cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks.

The soda tax was "soundly rejected" by 58 percent of voters, with a record 37.6 percent turnout, which was higher than the previous mayoral election, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The former New York City mayor has poured millions into similar campaigns in other states, many of which have failed. Bloomberg donated $1,497,119.88 to the Santa Fe measure, according to the latest campaign finance statement.

Last year Bloomberg contributed more than $18 million to support two soda tax proposals in Oakland and San Francisco. He has also funded successful campaigns in Philadelphia and Berkeley.

The California legislature failed to pass a statewide 2-cents-per-ounce tax on soda in 2016.

"People saw through the political agenda of outside forces who wanted to impose an unfair tax at the expense of middle-class families and small-business people in Santa Fe," said Better Way for Santa Fe and Pre-K, a political committee that opposed the tax.

The Journal reported low-income voters "went against the tax in huge numbers," while rich sections of the city were more likely to support the measure. Proponents of the measure said funds raised by the $7 million tax would go to support preschool.

At a city council meeting last month, Gloria Mendoza, a community activist who opposed the tax, suggested the rich pay for preschool programs by taxing tofu instead.

"How dare you say that you're representing the people of Santa Fe because you're not, because the people of Santa Fe do not want a sugar tax," Mendoza told council members. "Why don't you tax tofu?"

Published under: Taxes