MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill to halve the state grocery tax over time passed the Alabama House Education Budget Committee on Wednesday, eliminating one of its first hurdles in the legislative process with five days remaining in the session.
HB479 would reduce Alabama’s 4% food tax to 3% in September and then to 2% in September 2025, as long as Education Trust Fund revenues increase by at least 2%. Budget Chairman Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) said the cuts were doable.
“We looked at projected revenue, budget, expenses, reserves, all of it,” Garrett said. “We have taken into account a slight recession. We are confident that we can handle this as offered.
The Alabama Grocers Association supports the bill.
“Every day, grocers see hard-working Alabamians who are unable to buy the food they need,” said Ellie Taylor of the Alabama Grocers Association.
Alabama Arise, a group that has long advocated for reduced food taxes, also supports the bill. But he would still like to see a proposal that they believe better protects education funding.
“We believe the time is right to take this step now, as long as we have funds available,” said Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden.
Those representing education interests, however, have warned lawmakers that the budget growth will not last. They said school funding could suffer if that were the case.
“Programs like literacy and numeracy will likely be cut because of this. These are programs that work and move us forward,” said Allison King of the Alabama Education Association.
The bill also allows municipalities to lower their grocery taxes, but says they can’t increase them any higher than when the bill takes effect.
The League of Alabama Municipalities said this could negatively impact communities, which do not have the same taxing power as the state.
“Municipalities are limited specifically to a handful of particular taxes and are focused on what’s happening in their community,” said Baker Allen of the League of Alabama Municipalities.
Lawmakers approved the bill by voice vote. It then heads to the House, where currently 99 representatives are signed on as co-sponsors.
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