Tax-Break on Groceries?

September 15, 2006 -- 5:20 PM CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Republican candidate for governor Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Beebe both want to eliminate the sales tax on groceries.

Patricia Bittle of Jonesboro said that a tax break would be great.

"The poor people around's so many of them, they can barely buy groceries, much less afford the taxes," said Bittle.

Jeaneane Simmons feels the same way.  She's lived in Jonesboro for about 14 months and said that paying taxes on groceries was unheard of...that's until she moved to Arkansas.

"I'm from Texas, and we've lived here for a little over a year," said Simmons.  "I was real surprised when I first moved here and bought groceries for the first time, because things were taxed."

She said it took her by surprise when she had to pay the six percent tax.

"I was real shocked to find that out whenever it happened here," she said.  "I was wondering...oh no that's not how much that was...I didn't know there was a tax here, and they had to explain that to me," she added.

Simmons and Bittle were thrilled that Hutchinson and Beebe want to get rid of the tax.

"Everything is taxed," said Bittle.  "We're double taxed.  You earn a dollar, you pay taxes on that and then you turn around and pay taxes again.  We're taxed to death," she added.

The Associated Press reported that Beebe wants to phase out the grocery tax over time, while Hutchinson wants to eliminate the tax immediately, and Simmons couldn't be happier.

"That would be absolutely wonderful...absoulutely," she said.  "Yes, and I hope they do that."

As for grocery stores like Bill's Fresh Market, one of the managers said that a tax cut wouldn't affect the store at all, but shoppers said it sure is something to look forward to.