Governor Pete Ricketts joined the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association (NGIA) and the Nebraska Beverage Association Wednesday to oppose proposals to place a sales tax on groceries, food, soft drinks, candy, and bottled water.

“In our moment of need, now more than ever, Nebraska needs tax relief that will bring our state together and not divide it,” said Governor Ricketts.  “New taxes on food, pop, candy, and bottled water would hit working Nebraskans hard at a time when many are struggling to put their lives back together.”

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee is considering a removal of tax exemptions on particular groceries such as candy, bottled water, soda, and juice as a part of a tax reform package designed to provide local property tax relief.

Leia Noel, a registered dietician and volunteer with a non-profit that distributes food to needy individuals in the Lincoln area, spoke of the negative impact the tax would have on both rural and low-income Nebraskans.

“Higher cost of food translates to higher taxes on rural Nebraskans who already do not have access to the food programs that we have here in Lincoln,” said Noel.  “While I understand the need for changes in our tax system, this should not be done at the expense of families that are food insecure.”

Kathy Siefken, executive director of the NGIA, said the regulatory costs of a selective tax on certain foods would hurt grocers.

“Carving out specific items to tax is inefficient and costly for state government,” said Siefken.  “It requires more government lawyers, auditors and other staff to collect and enforce new tax laws.  At the same time it will drive up the cost of food due to the labor and software upgrades required by all retailers who sell these items–hitting small retailers the hardest.”