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Santa Fe voters reject soda tax, hand rare win to industry

Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Santa Fe Vice President Kathy Hart, 65, right, urges voters to reject a tax on sugary beverages outside a polling center in Santa Fe, N.M., on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Voters in New Mexico's capital city were deciding whether to add a tax on sugary sodas and other sweetened beverages that would follow the examples of several cities across the country. The proposed tax in Santa Fe would pay to expand early childhood education. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voters have rejected a measure that would have raised taxes on soft drinks in New Mexico’s capital city, giving a rare victory to the beverage industry after a string of recent defeats at the ballot box.

The special election triggered a barrage of spending from outside organizations, including the soft-drink industry and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is a staunch supporter of taxes on sugary beverages.

The Santa Fe City Clerk’s Office announced Tuesday the ballot initiative failed with 11,533 votes against and only 8,382 votes in favor. Opponents warned it would increase the cost of a can of soda by nearly 25 cents.

The tax was designed to expand preschool to 1,000 additional children, most of them from poor families.

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