Credit Where Credit’s Due: Who Cut Virginia’s Grocery Tax?

Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

By Carolyn Fiddler

August 28, 2023

If you’re running for reelection, pointing out your accomplishments as a lawmaker is a pretty typical – not to mention smart – thing to do.

And when those accomplishments are legitimately bipartisan, neither party has an exclusive right to campaign on them.

Virginia Sen. Monty Mason was one of the Democrats who voted to pass the incredibly popular measure cutting Virginia’s grocery tax last year – a measure that passed almost unanimously in both the state House and Senate.

Mason, who’s running for reelection in extremely competitive Senate District 24, rolled out a new ad touting his support for cutting Virginia’s grocery tax to 1%.

“We cut the grocery tax to put money back in your pocket,” Mason says in his family-focused ad that features his daughters and also highlights his support for Virginia schools.

The tax cut will typically save shoppers $1.50 on every $100 worth of groceries, which over the course of an entire year can add up. Several personal hygiene products also qualify for the cut, meaning Virginians will save money when purchasing things like napkins, paper towels, diapers, feminine products and more.

“Every decrease helps out a lot, especially with single moms, single fathers, so yeah I’m very happy that it’s going down,” Lauren Andrews, a shopper in Lynchburg, told a local news station.

But some Republican campaign advisers seemed to think that only their party could tout tax-cutting proposals, even if Democrats literally voted for the measure. So upset by a relatively routine ad, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s PAC, funded by wealthy donors, said it plans to send Danny Diggs, Mason’s GOP opponent in SD-24, $100,000 in response to the ad.

While reproductive rights have emerged as a centerpiece of many Democrats’ messaging campaigns this cycle, the party’s lawmakers have economic accomplishments to tout as well, despite the fact that Republicans seem to think they have a monopoly.

The grocery sales tax cut, which took effect on January 1,  benefitted Virginians in every region and of every political stripe.

In terms of credit-taking, literally almost every single incumbent lawmaker on the ballot this fall can claim the tax cut as something they helped bring about.

While initial proposals in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates and Democratic-majority state Senate differed on the details, the grocery tax cut was supported almost unanimously in both chambers after a compromise agreement was reached last year.

Other recent economic policies for which Democrats can claim credit include raising the state’s minimum wage, while Republicans are solely responsible for the failure of other cost-cutting bills, including one just this year that would have established a prescription drug affordability board. Currently, the ongoing state budget impasse is imperiling another cost-cutting measure passed under Democrats’ full control of state government in 2021: a reinsurance program that reduces health insurance premiums for Virginians covered under the Affordable Care Act.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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