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Norfolk store owner explains why Gov. Northam's push to eliminate grocery tax is more complex

Pretty soon, you could see a change to your receipt when you check out at the grocery store. Gov. Northam proposed to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries.

NORFOLK, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam proposed to eliminate the state sales tax on grocery items in his new budget. It's a push Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin says he supports and wants too.

Some grocery stores, including Turner's Market in Norfolk, want to help families that have lower incomes. 

Owner Jeff Turner says he wants to help create a balance within the community by offering better prices for families in the neighborhood.

"Equality of food in a low-income neighborhood...that's what we want to keep giving the people," said Turner.

Turner says when Governor Ralph Northam pushed for a 1.5% grocery tax break in his new budget, he knew it would be a help to some of his customers.

"Why not the everyday working person not pay taxes?" asked Turner. "It would help them out as well. It's equaling the playing field."

Though Northam wants to get rid of the state sales tax of up to 1.5% on groceries, any tax from localities still would be in place, which is commonly 1%.

Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin's team tells 13News Now he supports Northam's latest move, saying, "Governor Northam's budget proposal is a step in the right direction but does not entirely fulfill Virginians' mandate."

Turner agrees with the push to do more than cut a grocery tax, saying it wouldn't help every customer who walks through his doors. 

Turner's Market Manager, Alton Robinson, says this tax cut really wouldn't help the store itself or many of the customers who rely on other services. 

"We live in a pre-dominantly SNAP Benefit community, so the people here who receive SNAP benefits, they don't pay taxes anyway," said Robinson.
"You can't please everybody, but you can do what you can do and just shed a little brightness on our community."

Turner and Robinson say in order to see a bigger difference in some communities, such as the one they serve in Norfolk, they say state leaders need to find additional measures to meet this need. They say this includes supporting businesses looking to help people struggling with food insecurity.

"Don't be here for just one set of people, be here for everybody," said Turner.

Northam's proposal also includes one-time economic growth rebates, including $250 for individuals and $500 for married couples.


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