TN Senator wants to use Sunday wine sales to fund pre-K programs

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County could lose $8 million in federal funding that sends more than 1,000 students to pre-K.

"In Shelby County, we're about to lose a significant number of pre-K classrooms unless we can find an alternative source," Senator Lee Harris said.

Senator Harris of Memphis is sponsoring a bill to use tax revenue generated from Sunday wine sales, should it pass legislation, to fund access to pre-K.

Right now, neither grocery stores or liquor stores are allowed to sell wine or alcohol on major holidays or Sundays.

Harris said he's aware that some religious groups might frown on the idea of alcohol money funding education.

"This bill doesn't necessarily say that we have to have wine sales on Sunday, all it says is that if the Tennessee legislature approves sales on Sunday then the additional tax revenue that's generated from those sales will go for a high priority," Harris said.

The Sunday sales are just one potential piece of the puzzle to support early childhood education.

Harris says rough estimates for the tax revenue is around $2 million.

"We're going to lose classrooms here we're about $7 million or $8 million short so another million or two from the state will help a great deal," Harris said.

On the other side of the argument, liquor store owners like Doug Ketchum take issue with the proposal for Sunday wine sales altogether, primarily because he says it restricts them from selling other alcohol.

"We've got to be able to generate enough sales to cover the cost of staffing the stores and making the sales on Sunday and if we can't sell our liquor, that's going to put us at a disadvantage," Ketchum said.

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