Tax hike supporters say money will go to students, schools

Tax hike supporters say money will go to students, schools

(WMC-TV) - An organization pushing a half cent sales tax claims it will pay for Pre-K and training for teachers, with enough money left over to fund libraries and recreational centers.

So where is the proof? Stand for Children advocates say a future Tennessee law is all of the proof voters need to say 'yes' to the sales tax hike.

"The state law requires that half of the revenue generated by the sales tax must go to education," said Kenya Bradshaw, Stand for Children.

Stand for Children Tennessee Executive Director Kenya Bradshaw pulled out the law books Thursday to show where state law, Code 67-6-712, (effective July 1, 2013) mandates the distribution of sales tax revenue.

"It is the only guarantee that we have that all of our children will receive funding going forward," said Bradshaw.

Having served on the Transition Planning Commission, Bradshaw says she reviewed budgets from the school merger and found that without additional funding, 2013 would present a significant shortfall.

"And even with all the efficiencies that we recommended, we still have a $57 million starting gap," she said.

Opponents of the sales tax say previous school budgets have been mismanaged. Others argue that there is no written commitment that funds will go to Pre-K.

Other opponents simply suggest the initiative is premature.

"When people are saying this is premature, we don't ever believe this is premature to invest in our children," said Bradshaw.

Stand for Children is currently spending thousands of dollars to fund their campaign through television ads, mailers, and social media.

"This is $30 million that we need our citizens to vote on and I support making sure that we have informed voters," explained Bradshaw.

And with informed voters, Bradshaw believes the referendum can help keep classroom doors open.

"This is an opportunity to cast the net wider for support for our children," she said.

On Tuesday, October 30, the Shelby County Unified School Board will vote on a resolution to support the half cent sales tax increase. In advance of Tuesday's vote, a majority of school board members released an open letter.

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