What happens when a few people are elected to make spending choices for millions of people? This:
A proposal by Mayor Javier Gonzales to impose a tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages to raise money for early childhood education cleared another city committee Monday.But the Public Works Committee vote wasn’t unanimous, illustrating a host of lingering questions and concerns — in addition to outright opposition — about a tax some say would hurt businesses and cost poor people the most. The proposal will be heard by three other city committees before a planned public hearing and City Council vote March 8.The committee voted 3-1 to recommend approval after a public hearing that drew nearly two dozen speakers, most of whom urged councilors to support the initiative and put the question before voters in a special election in May.The committee also approved a companion resolution to create an early childhood development commission and establish guidelines on how money would be distributed. The goal is to expand the number of high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.“As a new mom, this hits close to home,” Meredy Talbot-Zorn said while holding her 5-month-old daughter, Tierra. “There was a study done … that showed that the poorest kids, by the time they’re 4 years old, are, on average, 18 months behind their peers. It’s this delay and this disparity that really has me standing up here tonight.”Simon Brackley, president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber “stands strongly” in support of investing in early childhood education but not the soda tax.