Sanford: Unions will have to mount persuasive campaign to increase taxes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In 2013, Memphis voters emphatically said no to an increase in the sales tax even when all of the extra money would be used to expand pre-kindergarten classes throughout the city.

It wasn’t that voters were against more education, but the few who bothered to vote felt they were already taxed enough.

Now nearly five years later, another initiative to increase the sales tax by a half percent is being pushed by Memphis police and fire unions. The two associations are collecting signatures in an attempt to get the issue before voters during the midterm election this November.

If the initiative gets on the ballot and voters approve it, the money would be used to restore health and pension benefits to pre-2014 levels.

The unions are also floating the idea that some of the extra sales tax money could be used for street maintenance and pre k.

I`m sure that no one in this city believes we are too generous to rank and file police and fire fighters when it comes to pay and benefits. These are tough jobs and public safety to a critical issue in Memphis.

So there is nothing wrong with asking, but the unions will have to mount a pretty persuasive campaign to get voters to tax themselves more. It did not work for pre-k.

We`ll see if it works for police and firefighters.

Commentary provided by Otis Sanford