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Vt. House panel weighs penny-an-ounce soda tax - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. House panel weighs penny-an-ounce soda tax

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A prominent Vermont economist is warning that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages will send more Vermonters out of state to shop.

Art Woolf of Northern Economic Consulting told the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday that retail activity on the Vermont and New Hampshire sides of the Connecticut River were even in 1969, when Vermont first instituted a sales tax.

As of 2007, Woolf says, retail activity in New Hampshire was 40 percent higher. He said he fears that gap would grow with the proposed penny-an-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

Supporters of the measure say the state needs the revenue to pay for health programs, and that Vermonters need to be encouraged to drink less of the beverages, which have been tied to a nationwide increase in obesity nationwide.

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