A column by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
This year as we celebrate West Virginia's 150th birthday, we've recognized many historic milestones. And on Monday, July 1, 2013 we will once again mark another historic day in the Mountain State. On that day, hard-working West Virginians will no longer see the food tax on their grocery receipts because we're eliminating the tax. Families, individuals and seniors citizens will now go through the grocery store check-out line knowing they will not have the additional financial burden of a tax on one of life's essentials, food. Sound financial management has allowed us to achieve this accomplishment as we have carefully worked toward the elimination of this tax. Despite the financial constraints we face, I'm proud to say we are putting money back into West Virginians' pockets.
Throughout the past 25 years, West Virginia has adopted a conservative financial approach. We have instituted better accounting and cash flow management practices, paid off our debts, and, when we have had the money, we've put state budget surpluses towards the Rainy Day Fund. For instance, West Virginia dedicated nearly $1 billion in surplus monies toward pension debts to stabilize future funding needs for these programs. By addressing our long-term, future financial responsibilities, we were able to bring financial savings to our people, today. Our fiscal responsibility also allowed us to gradually lower the tax burden on West Virginia businesses, enhancing our competitive business environment and promoting future growth in our economy. Through these strategic actions, we are now able to eliminate the tax on the food that you prepare at home.
Upon elimination, West Virginia will be one of 29 states - out of a total of 45 with a sales tax - that provides a full exemption for food from both state and local sales tax. By doing away with the food tax, we are helping our border businesses, who are reliant upon shoppers from our neighboring states, to gain a competitive advantage.
The next time you go to the grocery store, take a good look at the receipt and you'll see the savings. I'm proud to say West Virginians can now begin to reap the benefits of our willingness to responsibly address our financial obligations and efficiently manage monetary resources.
Amy Shuler Goodwin