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Lamont budget office exploring Sales Tax on groceries

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Will the search for state budget stability extend to the grocery store? 

Governor Lamont’s budget office is running the numbers on what a sales tax on groceries would look like, along with other major changes.

Right now, most of the stuff you buy at the supermarket to feed your family is exempt from the state sales tax.

One estimate indicates that the state could raise about $150 million a year by imposing a two percent sales tax on groceries. 

A spokesman for Governor Lamont’s budget office said, “…We need to explore new and different options, this means leaving no stone unturned.”

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) stated, “It has certainly started conversation in this building with this topic.” 

State Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven) added, “I’ve actually put up a Facebook post and I’ve gotten back quite a few responses and so far, since the last time I checked; 100% absolutely not. A resounding no.” 

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The majority leader in the Senate Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) stated, “The legislature and many others have looked at various exemptions that we’ve had and always felt that the exemption on groceries is one to keep.”

In addition to groceries, a special commission also recommended imposing the sales tax on lots of other things that have long been exempt. This is a commission headed by two prominent Republican business leaders. 

Duff added, “This is a Republican idea to tax groceries. At the same time, they want to cut taxes for top earners in the state of Connecticut, so I think it’s kind of a robbing of Peter to pay Paul.”

And the top ranking Republican in the Assembly, Fasano, is not ruling out the idea.

He said, “Overall, I’m not sure I agree with the policy, but I’d like to see the entire budget before I come to any final conclusion.”

The Connecticut Food Association that represents most of the state’s supermarkets said that this, coupled with a move to a $15 minimum wage and the possible imposition of highway tolls, has its members worried. 

“If you took the issue of putting a tax on food, in and of itself, is one thing, but when you add all of these things into that, it becomes a little bit difficult to figure out where this is going,” stated Association President Wayne Pesce.

All the Democrats News 8 spoke with on Monday were opposed to this idea. 

As you saw the Republican Senate leader didn’t rule it out. 

When News 8 Chief Political Correspondent Mark Davis asked another Republican lawmaker Monday what he thought about extending the sales tax to groceries, he replied, “It’s food for thought.”

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