MONTGOMERY — There's "a lot of organic work going on trying to decide" what happens with the state's budget surplus, State Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) told reporters on Thursday.
Reed said the "grocery tax has gone from 'oh my goodness, we may not ever be able to do that' to 'wow, that's on the top of the list.'"
"The priority is trying to understand what are we going to do with the resources," Reed added. "We've got four pillars that we're looking at. Talking about some rebates. Talking about saving some of the money. Talking about investing some of the resources and then tax cuts. I think all of those things in the discussion of what the numbers are going to be for those, how that's going to work, what we're doing together is a priority for us."
Two economic development incentives bills were passed by the Senate on Thursday.
Reed stated, "[N]ow we're going to be beginning to think about the budgets, so that's going to be a huge topic. There's beginning to be quite a bit of work by members talking about the budgets."
"Not only the General Fund, the Education (Trust Fund), but also the supplemental for education…deciding what we're going to do with those overages," he continued. "Those are big topics that we've got in our future."
A poll commissioned by the Alabama Republican Party released this week found Alabamians prefer a grocery tax cut over a tax rebate check by an 83-17% margin.
A proposal by State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) and State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) would reduce the sales tax on some groceries to 3% on September 1 and "on November 1, 2025, and on November 1 of every odd-numbered year thereafter until the tax rate is zero, the tax rate shall be reduced by one percent." The bill allows for the gradual reduction of the tax to be paused "if the growth in total net receipts from all revenue sources to the Education Trust Fund in the preceding two fiscal years was at least five percent more than the last odd-numbered fiscal year."
The proposal would use the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program's definition of food. Another possible proposal will use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program definition.
WIC's definition includes eggs, milk, canned fish, juice, cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables and whole grain bread.
The SNAP definition includes more foods, including fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry and fish; dairy products; bread and cereals; other foods, such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) has said he prefers using the broader SNAP definition of food.
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