Who Pays For Pre-K? How About The Tourists

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Paying for pre-kindergarten has been something talked about in Memphis since the turn of the 20th century.


In 2013, a plan to raise the sales tax to pay for Pre-K was shot down, you voters were the reason why.
Now, a new plan, and this time, some on the city council want to go around the Memphis taxpayers.
They want to raise the tax on people staying at hotels and motels.

"It doesn't involve taxing some of our constituents," says Mark Sturgis, who has been working on this plan. "A sales tax or some other form would be a bit more regressive. This is something people coming here as tourists, they're making an investment, not just in visiting those fun places, like Graceland or Beale Street, but you're making an investment in people of Shelby County. That's important."

City Council members, led by Kemp Conrad, will start discussions.
There will be disagreements.
Here's one reason why: Memphis is a city where thousands make their livings working in tourism.
According to Wayne Tabor of the Memphis Hotel/Lodging Association, "We employee as an industry 35,000 folks in Shelby County."

Don't get the wrong idea, Wayne Tabor of the Hotel/Lodging Association says.
His group likes pre-kindergarten. "We support Pre-k education," he says, "... but we think it shouldn't be on the backs of our industry alone, or any industry. It should be shared throughout all of Shelby County to support Pre-K."

Supporters say they need $8-million dollars. Sturgis, of Seeding For Success says, "Most studies show for every dollar you put into Pre-K, you get a $7 to 8 million dollar return on your social investments."

City Council won't be voting on this plan, just discussing it, for now.


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