In what is probably best described as a hopeless election cycle for Democrats in Alabama, some are trying their best to fill a void in this state that is a traditional Republican issue – tax relief.
Another ironic twist to the story is Alabama's regressive taxation was a product of more than a century of Democratic Party dominance in the state that stretches back to Reconstruction.
At issue is the state's tax on groceries. Under the current tax structure, Alabama levies a 4% sales tax on groceries.
That tax generates an estimated $500 million annually and is part of the Education Trust Fund budget, which hit a record $8.2 billion during this past legislative session.
Even despite Republican lawmakers touting the fiscal health of state government, Republican leadership has been reluctant to allow for an aggressive push to eliminate the grocery tax, despite past efforts from State Sen. Andrew Jones (R-Centre) and outgoing State Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) throughout the last quadrennium.
The driving force behind higher prices at the grocery store has been inflation. Food inflation has been increasing at its fastest rate since 1979.
However, Democrat lawmakers insist immediate relief should come through the tax code. On Wednesday, Montgomery TV WSFA's Erin Davis highlighted Alabama Democrats' push to eliminate the grocery tax, led by State Rep. Dexter Grimsley (D-Abbeville).
"Groceries are something that it shouldn't be a choice as to how much we're spending on them," Grimsley said to Davis.
Other Democrats have been on the grocery tax repeal bandwagon, as well. State Rep. Penni McClammy (D-Montgomery) has followed in her late father Thad McClammy's footsteps in promoting the end of the grocery tax, naming it a priority immediately after being sworn in.
Unless Gov. Kay Ivey calls a special session, any movement on the grocery tax will have to wait until next year after the new legislature is officially elected. The 2023 Regular Session will begin on March 7, 2023.
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