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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 05/20/2010

Baltimore ponders bottle tax alternative

By Washington Post editors

Several Baltimore city council members say they have a plan to cut the city's budget gap without a 4-cent tax on bottled drinks.

Eight of the council's 14 members, including Council President Jack Young, announced a plan Wednesday to tax video poker machines, billboards and oversize trucks to cover part of the $11 million that the bottle tax was projected to generate.

Baltimore's discussions come as the D.C. Council weighs whether it should enact a "soda tax" as part of the 2011 budget to pay for more healthful school lunches. The 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar soda, proposed by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and slated to be voted on Thursday, has generated vocal opposition from local restaurants and businesses.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake proposed the tax as part of an effort to avoid drastic cuts. But grocers, beverage distributors and other business groups have lobbied aggressively against it.

Council members offered few specifics of their plan. They say it is based on the mayor's proposed package of nine tariffs.

Staff and Associated Press reports

By Washington Post editors  | May 20, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
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