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>State health commissioner touts soda tax on visit

Dr. Richard F. Daines, state health commissioner, visited Buffalo on Tuesday as part of a statewide push for passage of a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages. He said the tax is needed to help reduce high rates of obesity and offset proposed state budget cuts.

In January, Gov. David A. Paterson included a proposed soda tax in his budget for the second year in a row. Legislators rejected the measure last year, and bottlers and vendors concerned that it will harm business oppose it again this year.

Daines, in a meeting with The Buffalo News Editorial Board, cited studies that show sodas and other sugary beverages, such as energy and fruit-flavored drinks, are the leading foods that contribute to weight gain. In addition, he said, other evidence, such as price increases for cigarettes, indicates that a tax will discourage consumption.

The proposal would add a penny per ounce to the price of soda and sugary drinks with less than 70 percent fruit juice. It's projected to generate $1 billion annually when fully implemented and reduce consumption of the drinks by 15 percent, Daines said, calling claims it will cost thousands of jobs an unfounded scare tactic.


>Tax rate increase featured in proposed 2010-11 budget

For the first time in several years, residents in the Cheektowaga Central School District are facing an increase in property taxes.

Under the proposed $39.3 million budget being considered for 2010-11, the tax rate would increase by about 3.9 percent. School Superintendent Dennis Kane said Tuesday the new tax rate would be $26.61 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a $1 increase from this year's tax rate.

Kane said the increase was because of a slight increase in expenditures and a drop in revenue -- primarily cuts in state aid.

The School Board on Tuesday night scheduled a public hearing on the spending plan for 7 p.m. May 4 in the senior high school, 3600 Union Road, Cheektowaga. The budget vote is set for May 18.


>'Freedom Riders' author scheduled to speak

Author and historian Raymond Arsenault, whose book about the civil rights "freedom riders" forms part of the basis for a PBS documentary, will speak at 7 p.m. Friday at Canisius College.

A graduate of Princeton and Brandeis universities, Arsenault is a John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. He is also the author of "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice," on which a PBS documentary is partially based. The documentary will premiere on PBS' American Experience in 2011.

Sponsored by the Buffalo Branch of the NAACP and the Peter Canisius Professorship in the African American Experience, the lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held in the Regis Room on the second floor of the Student Center.

For more information, contact Bruce Dierenfield at 888-2683 or

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