By VERONICA GORDON
Gov. Rick Perry made a stop at the Walmart in San Marcos Thursday, promoting the Aug. 17-19 sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers.
Perry made his way through the produce aisles, shaking hands and taking pictures with customers along the way to a podium set up in the school supplies section of the store.
“I’ve already seen many shoppers picking up supplies today,” Perry said. “This holiday is important, because it’s about making it easier for Texas families to provide those necessary items and still be able to keep a little extra money in their pockets.”
The sales tax holiday was launched 14 years ago by the Legislature as an incentive for shoppers. The holiday has expanded to three days in late August.
As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and other items priced under $100 from sales tax, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.
Perry said he has made similar stops, such as in El Paso, in the past few years to announce the holiday.
“I’m a big believer that the state of Texas is economically doing better than other states,” Perry said. “And I think other states should have a similar tax-free holiday.”
San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero introduced the governor and spoke about the impact sales taxes have on the city’s revenue.
“Sales taxes make up 45 percent of our general fund,” Guerrero said, “accounting for approximately $6.8 million a year. We are always happy to welcome the crowds to San Marcos, and we look forward to the benefits of the shopping weekend.”
Walmart Manager Terry Yancey said his store was chosen for the Perry visit by the corporate office.
“They saw that the governor wanted to have a press conference in the area, and our store was selected because of the shopping environment in San Marcos,” Yancey said, referring to the location of the outlet malls and Texas State University.
“It’s a great place to kick off the tax-free holiday,” he added. “And we are honored to have the governor here for our employees and the community.”
Yancey said that many of his employees had their picture taken with Perry.
Clifton Griffin, of Kyle, works in the store’s bakery department. He was excited about the governor’s visit but saw it as a publicity stunt.
“It’s show-and-tell for the governor,” Griffin said. “He has to keep his face out there. But it’s a good thing, I guess.”
One shopper with several children in tow said she home-schools her kids. She said she waits for the sale to end, when items are on clearance.
Sara Hawkins, of Niederwald, has two students in the Hays school district. She was shopping for back-to-school items when she heard applause and noticed the crowd.
“I was curious to see what was going on,” she said. “I saw that it was the governor and thought that was interesting.”
Hawkins said she takes advantage of the tax-free holiday to “save every penny” she can. Hawkins also said she’s confused about why some items are tax exempt and why some are not on the list.
“I wonder why backpacks you carry on you aren’t tax-free but then diapers are?” she said. “That’s never made sense to me.”