Testimony on HB 7314: AAC A Tax On Certain Sweetened Beverages Finance, Revenue and Bonding

The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter representing over 2700 members conceptually supports HB 7314. We support adopting new revenues that will move us toward balancing the state budget.

HB 7314 is a way to raise new revenue and at the same time address the health concerns caused by individuals being overweight or obese. It is well documented that sugary drinks have a direct negative impact on health issues, including diabetes and obesity. Thus we support the concept behind HB 7314, however we urge the Finance Committee to amend the bill by including, rather than exempting drinks that include sugar substitutes as defined in Section 1. (1) (b) from the definition of “Caloric sweetener”. Such sugar substitutes actually have far reaching negative health effects on the body, including harm to kidneys, rotting of teeth due to acidity, and weight gain. Studies have found that the more diet sodas one drinks the higher the likelihood of becoming overweight. Likewise, fruit juices, even 100% juice, have considerable amounts of sugar and should be drunk in limited amounts. By increasing the tax on sugary drinks consumers will likely increase the purchase of “diet” drinks that are equally harmful, if not worse for one’s health. The unintended consequence of HB 7314 as currently drafted may be to increase rates of poor health including overweight and obesity in individuals.

There is a secondary benefit to amending HB 7314 to include sugar substitutes and nonnutritive sweeteners. Adding drinks that include these products will increase the revenue from the added tax.

We urge the Finance Committee to include new revenue streams into its budget as only new enhanced revenues will avoid drastic cuts to social services, education, health care and municipal aid. Without added revenues, such as a tax on sugary drinks, balancing the budget would mean harmful budget reductions that will have the most deleterious effect on low and moderate income households. We cannot as a state balance the budget on the backs of those with the least income, such as the aged, disabled and poorest members of our state.

Speak Your Mind