Philadelphia, PA – Thousands of Philadelphia toddlers have started 2017 in a citywide pre-kindergarten program as a new Philadelphia soda tax created to fund it hit store shelves.
Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney proposed the tax last year as a way to establish universal pre-K. According to city officials, they received more than 3,700 calls regarding the new program. Over 2,200 families applied during the enrollment period, which began in the fall.
The program will run approximately $23-million. Each center receives $8,500 dollars per student, funded by the soda tax. Philadelphia residents are experiencing the price hike of the new tax – a case of Gatorade which originally cost $5.99 is now priced at $8.39. The tax is expected to bring in more than 90 million dollars in revenue to help fund universal Pre-K programs and other city improvements.
The goal is to invest $210 million over five years to pay for the current 2,000 seats now, 3,000 by this fall, 4,000 by the fall of 2018, 5,000 by the fall of 2019 and 6,500 by the fall of 2020.
More than eight in 10 applicants live at or below the federal poverty rate.