Texas lawmakers recently introduced a new bill that, if passed, would instill a penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary beverages in an effort to raise more money for public education and state health services.

State Representative Joe Farias says the proposed legislation would enable the state of Texas to generate more than $2 billion to help balance budget cuts within the public education system, as well offer a substantial revenue boost for the Children’s Health Promotion Account.

Farias said that the bill is not intended to punish Texans for consuming sugary beverages, but rather help produce additional income for state agencies in a manner similar to taxes raised from alcohol and cigarettes. However, while some Texans may not balk at a mere 12-cent increase on a 12-ounce soda, some restaurant owners say they fear that a soda tax may encourage more people to simply drink water when they venture out to eat – cutting into a product that has traditionally had a high profit margin.

Yet, officials say that people who enjoy sugary beverages are not likely to quit because of a few pennies. In fact, many surveys that have recently been conducted on this issue have shown a surprising level of support coming from people living in low-income neighborhoods – those most likely to benefit from increased budgets in public education and health care.

Incidentally, the proposed tax would exclude coffee, no-calorie drinks, vegetable and fruit juice, beverages with more that 0.5% alcohol, sports drinks, unsweetened milk and baby formula.