Rio Grande Foundation Launches “No Way Santa Fe” Initiative to Raise Awareness of Damaging Beverage Taxes

The Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s only free market think tank, launched the “No Way Santa Fe” public education initiative today to inform Santa Fe residents about the negative impacts of Mayor Javier Gonzales’ proposed tax on sugary drinks.

The “No Way Santa Fe” initiative will use a variety of methods to educate New Mexicans about what Mayor Gonzales’ tax will really do to their pocket books, the regressive nature of his tax and the harm it will do Santa Fe businesses.

“Mayor Javier Gonzales may think Santa Feans will fall for his tax-and-spend scheme, but he will soon find the city different as most residents are opposed to regressive taxes that target the poor and middle-class,” Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, said.

The ballot measure which will be voted on May 2 (with early voting starting on April 12) would levy a tax of 2 cents per ounce on “sugary” drinks. Proceeds would be used to create a new city-wide bureaucracy to administer “pre-k” programs.

The Rio Grande Foundation released a report in January that detailed the public deception campaign Mayor Gonzales used to push his tax scheme through the city council.

“Rarely have so many issues of concern to supporters of limited-government aligned themselves in one ballot question,” Gessing said.

He also noted that proposed tax is:

  • Bad tax policy that unfairly targets the consumers of legal products for heavy and regressive taxation (borne disproportionately on poor and middle-class consumers);
  • Bad criminal justice policy that will result in the creation of an illegal market in ‘smuggled’ soda;
  • Bad social policy as it taxes sugary drinks at a far-higher rate than New Mexico taxes beer (a product which has similar calorie content and numerous alcohol-related issues as well);
  • Bad education policy as the effectiveness of pre-K programs nationwide is doubtful, with the new funding mechanism expected to decline in the future.

Similar taxes have been decried from across the political spectrum including by then-Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who said, “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it should be the people on top who see an increase in their taxes, not low-income and working people.”

The Teamsters Union in Philadelphia has also led the opposition to that city’s tax.