MONTGOMERY — The State House and Senate unanimously passed amended legislation on Thursday that cuts the state’s sales tax on groceries by 2%, which Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth praised as a “bold first step” toward doing away with the tax altogether.

Following the final passage of House Bill 479 on Thursday, Ainsworth said, “Today’s passage of our bill that cuts the state sales tax on groceries in half represents the largest tax reduction in Alabama’s history and is a bold first step toward my goal of abolishing it altogether.”

“Our dinner table tax cut will save the average Alabama family the cost of two weeks of groceries and help them combat the skyrocketing inflation and high food prices that Joe Biden’s administration has produced,” Ainsworth said. “It also demonstrates what can be accomplished if we stay true to our conservative beliefs, build consensus among lawmakers, and have the courage to attempt what many say can’t be done. We have put fiscal guardrails in place to ensure that education dollars remain protected as the $300 million tax cut goes into effect, and we remain dedicated to fully funding our K-12 public schools, community colleges, and public universities at all times.”

House Bill 479 by State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre) would drop the state’s sales tax on groceries by 1% in September automatically and an additional 1% as soon as September 2024, 2025 or a later year if the state projects 3.5% growth in the Education Trust Fund (ETF) for the next fiscal year. The average growth rate in the ETF annually is 3.6%, according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.

“The one thing that I think was important about this legislation (is) it was an organic growth of a way to help the people of the state of Alabama,” Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) told reporters on Thursday. “This wasn’t a Republican issue, a Democrat issue. Everybody collaborated and worked together and we wound up with a good product in the end. As time moves forward, I think we had enough security in the legislation to make sure that we don’t go too far if we wind up with a recession coming in our economy. At the same time, as aggressive as we can be, giving resources back to the people of Alabama in this form of tax is a great thing.”

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