WE ALWAYS SAY that Bedford’s Sodas, born in Port Angeles and serving stores and restaurants across the United States, bring people together.
That was especially important during the worst of the pandemic, when small businesses made it through because of the support from our community.
But the pandemic is far from over, and local businesses like mine continue to struggle. If we’re going to fully recover, the last thing we need is more financial burdens.
The beverage tax proposed by the Washington State Legislature would be a huge obstacle to recovery for small businesses like mine. We’re just now trying to overcome losses from an economically devastating pandemic. Imposing a harmful beverage tax would make it hard for my company to continue producing our premium sodas.
This legislation would place a tax of 1.75 cent-per-fluid ounce on any beverage with caloric sweetener. That adds up to quite a lot for consumers, and it would disproportionately impact small, local businesses whose futures have already been jeopardized by the pandemic.
This large tax would increase the price of every one of Bedford’s Sodas’ 12-ounce bottles by 21 cents, or $5.04 for a case of 24.
Such a drastic tax hike would force us to raise our prices, which would put my company at risk along with the livelihoods of stores and the restaurants who rely on our products.
During a year of limited business, the state should be focusing on how it can help small companies recover, not how to raise money off those very same struggling businesses. Passing a beverage tax now would make it even harder for working families to afford their grocery bills.
Our political leaders should already know that beverage taxes in Washington are unpopular, and have been even before the pandemic severely impacted the economy. In 2010 and again in 2018, Washington residents voted against similar statewide taxes.
Despite the clear opposition of their constituents, some legislators in Olympia are still trying to move forward with legislation that is not supported by the majority of Washington’s voters.
It’s time for our elected leaders to respect the views of Washingtonians rather than forcing another harmful tax on us.
I’m proud of the company I’ve built. I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to share my passion for the unique sodas with wonderful flavors with people throughout the Northwest. Small businesses are built by people who love what they make and want to share it with others; they are essential to every community and I’ll do everything I can to help them survive.
This is why we ask for help from our communities. Please tell the Washington State Legislature to vote NO on SB 5371.
Ed Bedford is the founder and president of Bedford’s Sodas of Port Angeles.