Support shown for half cent sales tax hike

Support shown for half cent sales tax hike
Organizations come together in support of sales tax hike
Organizations come together in support of sales tax hike

(WMC-TV) – A battle has been brewing over a half cent sales tax.  Now, the controversial proposal is getting some support.

In February, the Tax Foundation ranked Tennessee's combined state and local sales tax as the highest in the country.

Despite the tax burden, many Shelby County and Memphis city leaders convened on Wednesday to push a half-cent sales tax increase.

Shelby County is anticipating the public school's shortfall to range between $59 million and more than $100 million next year.

To fill the gap, Mayor Wharton is working with other organizations like Latino Memphis and Stand for Children in an effort to explain why they think the sales tax increase is the best option.

"The reality is that it takes money to educate children," said Noel Hutchinson, First Baptist Church Lauderdale.

Van Turner, who is the chairman of the Shelby County Democratic party, is a father of three. His wife also works as a guidance counselor in public schools. For that reason, Turner says funding schools and strengthening the community is his top priority.

"Education is important to me and I want the best for my children," said Turner.

Critics expressed concerns that the tax revenue will only go towards a unified school system, excluding future municipal schools. That is something Transition Planning Commission member Kenya Bradshaw denied.

"Under the Tennessee state code, it guarantees that 50 percent of the revenue generated from this half cent sales tax increase has to go to public education," she said.

"If you want a better life for your children and their future then vote 'yes' for referendum number one," said Rep. Johnnie Turner.

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