Boston – Today, Governor Patrick released a budget that removes the sales tax exemption for soda and candy. The Boston Foundation applauds the Governor’s proposal, and urges the legislature to include it in subsequent budget deliberations. The Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition -- representing health care, prevention, business and civic leaders, and which was convened by the Foundation and NEHI to stem the rising tide of preventable chronic illness -- filed similar legislation last week with Rep. Kay Khan, D-Newton. This legislation, An Act to Reduce Childhood Obesity, requires physical activity to be part of the school day and provides funds for establishing physical activities in the schools by removing the sales tax exemption of soda and candy.
In Massachusetts, the childhood obesity rate has risen by 8% in just 8 years, and 30% of the state’s children are either overweight or obese – with great disparities by race, ethnicity, income and geography. The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks has been linked directly to the growing obesity epidemic. More than 30 states now have sales taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks – but Massachusetts is one of only 16 states that do not tax these items at all. Removing the sales tax exemption would provide needed revenue to fund increased physical activity for our children, and is an important step we must take to tackle childhood obesity.
“Massachusetts is the world’s leader in quality of health care, and the national leader in access,” said Paul Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “It is time we extend that leadership to actual health and wellness. Ending the tax exemption on these products, and using the funds to promote physical activity for our children, is an important part of achieving that goal.”
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of more than $800 million. In 2012, the Foundation and its donors made $88 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of close to $60 million. The Foundation is a partner in philanthropy, with some 900 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives that address the region’s most pressing challenges. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, offers special consulting services to philanthropists. Through its services and its work to advance the broader field of strategic philanthropy, TPI has influenced billions of dollars of giving worldwide. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit www.tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.