MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill cutting the state’s grocery tax in half over time passed the Alabama House Education Budget Committee Wednesday, clearing 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% this September, then down to 2% in September 2025, as long as revenue to the Education Trust Fund grows at least 2%. Budget chairman Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) said the cuts are feasible.
“We’ve looked at the projected revenue, the budget, the spending, the reserves, all of that,” Garrett said. “We’ve factored in a mild recession. We are confident that we can handle this as proposed.”
The Alabama Grocers Association supports the bill.
“Daily, grocers witness hardworking Alabamians unable to purchase the food that they need,” Ellie Taylor with the Alabama Grocers Association said.
Alabama Arise, a group that has long advocated for a grocery tax cut, also supports the bill. But it still would like to see a proposal that they say better safeguards education funding.
“We think the time is right to take this step now, while we have funds available,” Alabama Arise Executive Director Robyn Hyden said.
Those representing education interests, however, warned lawmakers the budget growth won’t last. They said school funding may suffer if that’s the case.
“Programs like literacy and numeracy will likely be cut because of this. These are programs that are working and moving us forward,” Allison King with the Alabama Education Association said.
The bill also allows municipalities to lower their grocery taxes but states they cannot then raise them higher than when the bill takes effect.
The Alabama League of Municipalities said that could negatively impact communities, which lack the same taxing power as the state.
“Municipalities are limited specifically to a handful of particular taxes and are concentrated to what’s going on in their community,” Baker Allen with the Alabama League of Municipalities said.
Lawmakers approved the bill by voice vote. It next heads to the House, where currently 99 Representatives are signed on as cosponsors.