As we watched the current budget cycle, there was a growing sense that we are caught in an ill-fated loop that never leads to progress and prosperity for our community. Current budget proposals and discussions only played at the edges of any kind of forward movement. The Coalition for a Moral Budget felt the need to come together and propose a set of budget amendments that would be a bold statement for where we wanted Memphis and Shelby County to head in the future. We hope that you will take these recommendations as an opportunity to break us out of the loop of austerity to a new day that makes real commitments to the progress and prosperity of the people of Memphis and Shelby County.
While this may be viewed as late in the budget process, we have seen our local mayors and legislative bodies move mountains to offer tens of millions of dollars in tax incentives to projects within a couple of weeks because time (and the business community) demanded. Since our proposed moral budget does not affect the current budget and supports new revenue to fund the proposed investments, we know that the City Council and County Commission can get this done for our people and communities before the budget deadline with the same urgency and deliberate speed brought to bear for the business community.
We believe these investments reflect the needs of our young people and our most underserved communities, emphasizing the values and priorities most of us hold dear. While some may call this plan ambitious, we believe it is crucial at this moment of grave uncertainty and amazing opportunity. We urge the members of the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission to find the political will necessary at this pivotal moment for our community to fund a moral budget.
We are requesting that you:
– Maintain the current tax rate by recertifying the tax rate to the state-mandated level and adjusting it back to the current rate generating an estimated $40M in additional revenue for the City of Memphis and $100M in additional revenue for Shelby County.
– Use the revenue generated from the increased value and wealth in our community to make the investments for people and communities summarized in the charts below and detailed in the corresponding Moral Budget Narrative.
We also invite you to TAKE ACTION NOW by signing this letter asking Memphis and Shelby County law makers to build a better tomorrow by investing in human infrastructure today.