Alabama Arise optimistic as grocery tax bill gains traction

There is bipartisan support for a grocery tax cut in Alabama.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 9:41 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 10:10 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Some Alabamians are having to make tough decisions when checking out at the grocery store.

“People are having to make hard choices between medicine, food, healthy food, foods their doctor recommends or just food that’s affordable,” said Robyn Hyden, the executive director of Alabama Arise.

Alabama Arise has been pushing for a grocery tax cut for over 20 years. Hyden says it unfairly penalizes low-income families. Now, she is optimistic that state leaders could take action.

Multiple grocery tax bills have been introduced in the Alabama Legislature, but one has support from every state senator and 100 of the 105 state representatives. The bill slashes the current 4% tax in half.

“It’s not the full four cents. It’s the two cents of grocery tax. But that’s just a priority of our constituents, a priority for the members, and it’s clearly reflected by the amount of co-sponsors in the bills,” said Rep. Danny Garrett.

A concern going forward would be making up lost revenue. This sales tax currently helps fund the state’s education budget.

“We know that we need to fund education, but we believe there are better ways to fund schools than taxing food,” Hyden said.

Alabama Arise suggests raising taxes for upper income earners.

“If we have to choose between taxing food, a basic necessity of life, or maybe closing a tax loophole that gives some people thousands and thousands of dollars in tax cuts every year, maybe it’s more fair that those households don’t benefit from that tax break,” Hyden said.

Hyden admits not everyone is going to agree with her line of thinking, but she is hopeful Democrats and Republicans can unite to find a solution.

A House committee plans to vote on the bill next Wednesday. That’s the first step of the process to passage.

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