CHARLESTON -- "A penny saved is a penny earned." With that, Benjamin Franklin added to a growing collection of wise words to share with a very young nation. These wise words still apply today.

West Virginians are no strangers to hard work. We know what it takes to earn a decent living and take care of our families. Saving a penny here and a penny there will add up for many people in our small towns, communities and larger areas that know pennies make dollars.

It is heartbreaking to know that some of our seniors, our neighbors have had to make very hard choices between affording healthy food, any food and their monthly prescriptions. It is staggering to think that a hard working single mom may not be able to purchase as many nutritional items for her kids each week because she saves a few pennies by choosing less expensive and less nutritional choices.

In addition, the state's food tax rate challenges the survival of small local stores in communities based along the border of neighboring states. These stores see lost revenue because their shoppers travel across state lines to save some money to stretch their food dollar.

For these reasons, the 1 percent reduction in sales taxes on food is important and I am pleased this change is coming to all West Virginians. When the West Virginia Legislature passed my proposed legislation to reduce this regressive tax by one cent, they voted to give you, the taxpayer, your money back. The less you have to spend on the food necessities of daily life, the more you will have in the long run for other needs.

There are businesses, seniors, and families that will benefit from this change. While some may think of it as simply "change", every penny counts. Our citizens have earned the right to save their pennies and we have begun to fulfill our obligation to help them do so.

I am thankful that this tax cut has passed the legislature so our people can keep more of their money, use it to fulfill their needs and provide nutritious food on the table without jeopardizing other life necessities.

We are blessed to live in a country where food is plentiful. Now, in West Virginia, it will be more affordable.

I look forward to the day this bill arrives on my desk for I will gladly sign it. I am proud to say, the time has come to save our pennies.

Tomblin is acting governor of West Virginia.

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