This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
In a fiery address to early childhood education advocates, Mayor Kenney stumped for the sugary-beverage tax he’s seeking to fund quality pre-K in Philadelphia and bashed the levy’s opponents.
His targets during the 10-minute address included the beverage industry, repeatedly, and even an esteemed member of his own party. In a particularly pugnacious moment, Kenney advised Ed Rendell, formerly both Philadelphia’s mayor and Pennsylvania’s governor, to "keep his mouth shut."
Rendell recently questioned whether it was wise to impose a tax that singles out the beverage industry and could disproportionately fall on poor consumers.
Kenney’s response to the critics: "These companies have advertised and marketed for generations in poor, underserved neighborhoods. They have made their billions off of poor, underserved neighborhoods."
Kenney’s remarks kicked off the fourth session of "Quality Talks," a series of panel discussions convened by the William Penn Foundation. The event featured national leaders on early childhood education and higher-ups from cities that have aggressively moved to expand pre-K, with the hope of swapping ideas on how to best roll out new programs.