Baltimore bottle tax campaign sparks debate

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is calling for an increased bottle tax to help fund renovations of crumbling schools.

The mayor kicked off her campaign Monday for the bottle tax. Under her bill, the tax would increase from 2 cents to 5 cents in July 2013. That would generate about $10 million in revenue.

Rawlings-Blake would combine that with other funds to leverage about $300 million in bonds for school renovations.

Retailers and lobbyists for the beverage industry are opposing the tax, saying it will raise the cost of soda.

Meanwhile, Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso has been asking for authority to borrow $1.2 billion for school repairs, much more than the mayor’s plan. School advocate say the mayor’s plan for a $300 million fund won’t meet the school renovation needs.

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