TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Oklahoma House Democrats unveiled a three-pronged budget proposal that includes ending the grocery tax in Oklahoma.
As it stands now, Oklahomans are charged sales tax on groceries.
Oklahoma is also one of only seven states where groceries are taxable at a full rate.
States like Arkansas and Missouri charges sales tax on groceries but at a lower rate.
House Democrats say ending a grocery tax would save Oklahomans $257 million a year on grocery costs.
Lawmakers also say it'll lower the tax burden for Oklahomans.
"If you spend a hundred dollars and say, you keep that $4 and 50 cents, you're going to probably spend that on another gallon of milk or a second lunch meat, and it leaves that money in your pocket to be able to do that," said Rep. Melissa Provenzano, representative for Oklahoma House District 79 and House Democratic Education Policy Chair.
She said one in five children in Oklahoma don't have enough to eat and the pandemic is causing more food insecurity.
"You also see a real increase in not going out to eat, but going and shopping at the grocery store," said Rep. Provenzano. "It's not the be all end all answer, but it's definitely a piece of the cog in that wheel of making sure that families can get access to the resources and food that they need."
Municipal taxes in cities would still apply for shoppers but grocery store workers see the benefit in stretching the dollar for customers.
"So many of us are on budgets, our customers, myself, and to not pay sales tax like some of the other states it would be really beneficial to the family budget," said Trichia White, Manager of Perry’s Food Store in Tulsa.
White said customers come to her store specifically for meat and sometimes they will request tax be added before they start shopping to make sure they stay within their shopping budget.
"Many times people don’t consider the tax until they are at the register and it’s unfortunate that that effects them in such a way that they might have to put an item back because they went over," White said.
Customers also see the benefits. Jimmie Walker of Broken Arrow said a few dollars would make a difference in what he could save each time going to the store.
"It’s just me working right now because my wife is sick and that would help me going to the store and save a little money because taxes are pretty high on groceries when you go there," said Walker.
Some people see the downsides of the tax cut though. Jane Wheeler of Tulsa said the break at the register would be nice, but is concerned about what the state will lose without the tax revenue.
"To get rid of the taxes you have to figure out what is going to be replaced," said Wheeler. "What are you going to do away with?"
Another shopper said she would rather spend the money on taxes knowing they were going into the state's general fund instead of saving a few dollars to spend on something that may not be necessary.
Rep. Provenzano said the proposal from House Democrats would still save the state money despite the tax cut.