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Santa Fe Mayor's Plan for a Sugar Tax To Fund Pre-K Should Become Wave of the Future in Every American School District

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However, it is quite possible that both sets of statistics, the Governor's and the Legislature's, are true. Santa Fe's Mayor Gonzales put forth yet another study to the effect that 1,000 Santa Fe children between the ages of 3 and 4 with NO access to any pre-K at all, because their families can't cough up the enrollment tuition, sometimes exceeding $1200 a month. Gonzales stated that raising property taxes and gross receipts taxes would be much more devastating to low-income families than his sugar tax plan.

This program would not tax artificially sweetened beverages, only those containing sugar. I have personally carried on moronic conversations in that sad context with one prior New Mexico Secretary of Education and with many more than one of the New Mexico Secretaries of Health, all who will remain unnamed.

They either ignored my concerns or actively fought them in a kind of statutory turf war, as if no new program or council or Nutrition Secretary could add anything more to what dismal platitudes one comes to expect from bureaucrats and apparatchiks of the lowest order.

One Secretary of Education made it clear that she would never be able to stem the increase in artificial sweeteners over sugary beverages, and even told me while walking the few short blocks from the New Mexico Capitol to downtown Santa Fe that "Oh, no, I could never break the law!" as if that strange non-sequitur had anything whatsoever to do with the question at hand and somehow clarified the muddle in our state's top Educator's brain. (She is still a Democrat, by the way....)

The subject of sweeteners was deferred until later discussions by the Mayor, and I quite agree with that stance, although I am the #1 person in the state of New Mexico trying to get aspartame out of our state in toto, particularly in the schools, where it is sold in machines along with regular sugary drinks.

Bafflingly, the USDA released a new study two months ago showing that sugary sodas were the most prevalent purchases (about 10% of their purchases!) within the families getting food stamps, now called the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and that this was about the same level as in more affluent families.

Gonzales said, "There are a lot of people that talk about creating a business-friendly environment in New Mexico, and you have to keep taxes down, and that's why we can't invest in these areas. If you want a business-friendly environment in New Mexico, you're going to have the best skilled, trained workforce out there. And that starts at early childhood investment." This was more or less directed at Republican rhetoric prominently coming from the 4th Floor offices of New Mexico's Governor.

Personally, I think this is a great and very long overdue idea, one that completely transcends all of the partisan bickering and grandstanding one observes coming from the floors of both Houses in every legislature in the United States, and this is why I take the time to write about it at length. I think it could become a template for every city and every state in our nation.

I have gleaned a great deal of insight by reading excellent treatments on this fascinating subject by Justin Horwath at the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Taxing sugary drinks might even start to replace monies that the new Administration could eventually withdraw from Santa Fe because the Mayor and the City Council and the citizens are standing firmly behind our status as a Sanctuary City, along with New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Boston! (New York actually had sanctuary policies even under former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, now an adviser to Trump's campaign!)

Despite threats to cut off Federal funding to these cities, unless they capitulate to Trump and turn over the ostensibly millions of Mexican "criminals," most of these cities won't give up their status as sanctuary cities, for many reasons which are too vast and which go beyond the scope of this article.

More of these cities predominate in the Northeast, the Northwest, and around Chicago and Denver. There are some entire states that are in varying degrees "Sanctuary States." These include: Oregon, California, North Dakota, Colorado, Rhode Island, and New Mexico. The cities include some surprises like Portland, Maine; Montpelier, Vermont; all of Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas); South Tucson, Arizona; Bloomington, Minnesota; Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; Dallas County and Travis County (Austin) in Texas; at least 20 counties in Iowa, and several counties in stalwart Republican enclaves in Kentucky and Kansas, plus seven large counties in Florida.

But even more important, and aside from considerations of vindictive withdrawal of federal funding, Mayor Gonzalez plan could lead to a result long overdue across the United States and that is communities taking more charge in the education of their children, starting with three and four year old children.

This would be vital to improving their performance and ultimately keeping them in school longer clear through the college and graduate school levels.

As to not yet taxing artificial sweeteners, the real killers of our children's hopes and dreams, that would have to be developed separately at a newly responsive FDA and at the local levels in terms of buying strategies by education officials. That is a separate matter entirely, one I have been working on for more than fifteen years. I do see some light at the end of that particularly tunnel, and it is coming clearly out of Sacramento California from the considerations of the California Carcinogen Identification Committee with authority under Proposition 65 that may soon require mandatory labeling of aspartame-containing products as carcinogens.

In fact, such considerations are really the path for the future in all nations, in all jurisdictions, and in every school district in our nation and in every nation.

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