New bill would eliminate food tax across Arizona but faces opposition
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A trip to the grocery store has gotten expensive. James Hendricks is one of many Arizonans struggling to make ends meet.” Eggs are $7 for 12, it’s hard out here,” said Hendricks.” They’re starving people. It’s rough.” Some Arizona lawmakers are looking to ease the financial pain shoppers feel every time they buy a bag of chips or a gallon of milk.
HB 2061 is now making its way through the Arizona Legislature. The bill would eliminate all food and grocery taxes across the state. Seventy cities and towns currently have food tax that adds anywhere from 1 1/2% to 4% to a shopper’s grocery bill.
Arizona’s largest cities, Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa, don’t have a food tax, but other communities do, like Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Peoria, Tempe and Paradise Valley. Many shoppers say that anything to get their grocery bill down is worth doing. “Yeah, yeah groceries are really expensive,” said Hailey Whitefield. “Any help we can get would be nice .” “Of course, its a good idea,” said Gumercindo Hernandez. “Everything goes up. It’s hard on some families. It would help out a lot.”
But not everyone is convinced that getting rid of the food tax is a good idea. Tom Belshe is the executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. His group is against removing the food tax, insisting that food tax revenue helps pay for services like public safety, parks and recreation and libraries. Belshe said that doing away with the food tax could cripple some Arizona communities, forcing them to find other ways to generate funding. “The reward of this, while it might provide a small relief for the average Arizonan, overall it’s a big impact to cities and towns and affects our ability to provide services they want,” said Belshe. “The impacted services we provide like public safety, parks and recreation and libraries, these are things that are going to suffer because food taxes make up such a large component of city budgets in a lot of cities.” The bill has already passed through the House Ways and Means Committee and will soon head to the House floor.
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