State lawmakers from both parties heralded the end of the food tax Monday, each taking credit for its demise.
House Republicans hosted a press conference Monday morning. Democrats put out a press release later in the afternoon.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said removing the food tax has been a top priority for state Republicans for two decades.
"I think it's a very important step forward for the people of West Virginia," he said.
Armstead called the food tax "immoral" because food is "something that everyone has to have.
"I think anything we can do to put more money back in (taxpayers') pockets is helpful," he said.
Armstead also predicted dropping the food tax would have a positive effect on other sales taxes. He said more than half of state residents live near the border, and have previously driven to other states where food taxes were lower.
Now that West Virginia's food tax has been eliminated, Armstead said those shoppers would shop for groceries inside the state, and pick up items that are still taxed at the full 6 percent.
Meanwhile, Democrats chided Republicans for taking credit for the food tax reduction, saying the road to its elimination began during a special session in 2005.
"I'm disappointed that the Republicans keep trying to have it both ways. They do nothing but criticize the Democratic majority in the legislature, except when they're rushing to take credit for landmark legislation that could only be passed by that same Democratic majority," House Speaker Tim Miley said in a press release.
State party chairman Larry Puccio said Democrats "continue to accomplish many great things and improve the lives of West Virginians.
"Republicans ought to join our efforts instead of taking credit for what we have already achieved," he said.
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