Chamber, businesses support sales tax hike for pre-K - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Chamber, businesses support sales tax hike for pre-K

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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

In a show of solidarity the Greater Memphis Chamber and members of the Memphis business community openly endorsed the passage of a one half percent sales tax referendum, which will fund the Memphis Pre-K Initiative.

The measure will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

At a news conference Wednesday at the Greater Memphis Chamber downtown, business leaders voiced their support for the sales tax increase. They see it as a way to fund $20 million for pre-K education.

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A staggering 4,500 four-year-olds are currently left out of the pre-K system due to budget cuts by the Shelby County Schools system.

As passed by the Memphis City Council, half of the sales tax proceeds would be placed in a trust fund and administered by a nine member appointed commission.

The rest of the money would go to lower property taxes.

"The trust fund that's the huge difference," said Willie Gregory, Nike Director Of Community and Business. "Where constituents can go in and actually see the moneys and where the money is."

"The funds are actually going to be used for a 'firewall,'" added John Moore, President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. 'In other words, for these kids and the other part that is great is that it has a measure of reducing property taxes."

During the November 2012 general election a similar referendum sponsored by the Shelby County Commission was handily defeated at the polls by a 40 percent margin.

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