**Governor Paterson proposes ‘Obesity Tax,’ a tax on non-diet sodas **
BY GLENN BLAIN and KENNETH LOVETT
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU
Sunday, December 14th 2008, 11:37 PM
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ALBANY - A can of Coke could soon cost New Yorkers more than just calories.
Gov. Paterson, as part of a $121 billion budget to be unveiled Tuesday, will propose an “obesity tax” of about 15% on nondiet drinks.
This means a Diet Coke might sell for a $1 - even as the same size bottle of its calorie-rich alter ego would go for $1.15.
Paterson’s budget also calls for a 3% cut in education spending, a $620-a-year tuition hike at SUNY and a $600 increase at CUNY - and about $3.5 billion in health care cuts, a source said.
The Democratic governor will not call for a broad-based income tax boost, but he will push to restore the sales tax on clothing and footwear.
The drastic belt-tightening comes as lawmakers struggle to close a $15 billion deficit this year and next.
“It’s painful to make these decisions,” Paterson said Sunday.
State employees again will be asked to forgo their 3% raises next year and defer five days’ pay until they leave their jobs, the source said. In all, Paterson will propose about $9 billion in cuts, $4 billion in new taxes and fees, and $1.5 billion in nonrecurring revenue, a second source said.
The so-called obesity tax would generate an estimated $404 million a year. Milk, juice, diet soda and bottled water would be exempt from the tax.