TARRANT, Ala. (WIAT) — A new bill that would cut the state’s grocery tax in half is sparking some debate. This bill would decrease the state’s grocery tax from 4% to 2% over a period of time.
Bill sponsor Andrew Jones said all senators are on board, but some local leaders are concerned about the possible tax deduction.
Helena’s mayor Brian Puckett has publicly stated concern that there could be pressure to lower their local grocery tax.
Tarrant’s mayor, Wayman Newton, said after reviewing the bill he doesn’t have any worries.
He said the percentage this bill would cut seems to only represent the state portion of the sales tax revenue, leaving no effect on the local level.
“I personally think it’s needed because every time I go to the grocery store, I literally have to pull out my hair,” said Mayor Newton. “That’s why I’m bald. If you look at the price of eggs, a gallon of milk, I mean, it’s through the roof.”
Mayor Newton said being able to save money through a tax deduction would give families the ability to buy more groceries to put food on their tables.
He said some of his confidence comes from the fact that the bill’s success is tied to the growth rate of the education budget.
“It’s my understanding that part of the, the majority of those tax dollars actually go to fund the educational trust fund,” said Mayor Newton.
“There has to be 2% growth which is about $160 million,” said Senator Jones. “We think this bill cost about $76 million dollars per year that it’s implemented. So roughly double the revenue would be coming in as the money comes out for the grocery tax.”
He said the money residents get back from the tax cut would be spent other places, naturally replenishing the tax revenue.
Senator Jones stressed the dire need for legislation like this.
“Folks struggle these days to put food on the table. We suspect that this- our estimates show that this will be about $200 to $250 per family per year, so it’s going to be meaningful and help folks. You know that’s a week to two weeks, depending on your household, worth of groceries in some cases.”
Senator Jones said they have asked the bill to be in the committee in the senate this week. The house version will be filed, and he says they hope to get that moving quickly.
He said a priority of his is to go all the way to 0% at some point, but right now they have support for going halfway.