Gov. Haslam signs bill lowering sales tax on food

By Hugh G. Willett
Tennesseans will pay a little less for groceries under legislation signed into law Monday at a Monroe County grocery store by Gov. Bill Haslam.

The bill, which goes into effect in July, reduces the state portion of the sales tax on groceries from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. The legislation helps all Tennesseans, Haslam said.

“In six weeks you will be paying less every time you go to the grocery store,” Haslam told the crowd of shoppers and employees at Sloan’s Grocery in Vonore.

Passage of the bill marks the second time in as many years that grocery taxes have been cut. Last year the Legislature reduced the grocery tax from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent.

Although many states have looked to raise taxes following the drop in revenue that occurred because of the recession and the end of federal stimulus money, Tennessee has been able to cut taxes and control spending, Haslam said. The result is that Tennessee’s debt per resident is one of the lowest in the nation, he said.

Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, who helped carry the bill, said the legislation shows the contrast between the way things work in Nashville compared to Washington.

“Washington wants to spend, spend, and spend. Down here we are balancing our budgets and giving people more money to spend in their own budgets,” he said.

Haynes thanked Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City; senators Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and Mike Bell, R-Riceville; and others for their help in getting the bill passed.

“I think it’s a good move. It’s going to help people,” Sloan said.