Va. Gov. Youngkin calls for end of grocery tax; some shoppers skeptical

Amid rising inflation costs in Virginia, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Thursday unveiled his plan to get rid of the state’s grocery tax to shoppers.

The governor told customers at a Safeway in Alexandria that eliminating the 2.5% tax will lower the cost of living for many Virginians.

“Across the nation right now, an average family of four’s grocery bill has gone up a tremendous amount,” Youngkin said. “We have watched tax upon tax upon tax be added to everything we do.”

But some shoppers weren’t buying Youngkin’s plan.

“It sounds pie in the sky — great to get rid of taxes,” said Laurie Williams, an Alexandria resident shopping at the Safeway for her family of four. “But what does that really mean for everything else?”

Williams said she has seen her grocery bill slightly increase over the last few months, but she mostly blames the pandemic and supply chain issues.

“It may be a little over $115 each week and now, it’s creeping up,” Williams said. “So, yeah, I feel it, but I want to understand the other implications before I say ‘Yeah definitely.'”

Youngkin said a multi-million dollar budget surplus could cover the loss of the tax. One percent of the tax goes to local governments; 1% is earmarked for the state’s education budget, and a half percent is slated for transportation projects.

Youngkin campaigned on a promise to wipe out the grocery tax. He said a cheaper cost of living will keep families within the state’s borders.

“One of the primary areas that we are losing, is that Virginia’s cost of living has escalated at an extraordinary rate and people are moving to lower-cost places to live,” Youngkin told the crowd.

Youngkin’s plan also includes suspending the gas tax increase for one year, doubling the standard deduction and allowing veterans to exclude $40,000 of their retirement from state taxes. He said a Virginia family could save $1,500 a year with his plan.

Alexandria resident Philippe Suissa said shopping without a grocery tax could help him save a few hundred dollars a year, but not enough to make a big difference.

He wants to see Youngkin focus on other areas, such as tax credits.

“There are other things they can do to help people out,” Suissa said.

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