In 2021, the Moral Budget Coalition (MBC) united to advocate for the government budgets in Memphis and Shelby County to prioritize investments in people and communities, especially those in under-resourced areas. The Moral Budget Coalition has reviewed the new investments proposed in Mayor Harris’ budget for essential infrastructure improvements to Regional One Health and school capital projects that include bringing new high schools to Frayser and Cordova. We believe these investments align with our values and support a budget that prioritizes improving the quality of our public school systems and medical services.
New investments such as these sometimes require bringing in new revenue. The mayor has proposed increasing the wheel tax (motor vehicle registration fee) to provide the needed revenue this time. Since our founding, the MBC has been a strong proponent for generating new revenue, recognizing that conservative state laws and decades of fiscally conservative local leadership have limited our options for providing the resources we need to invest in under-resourced people and communities. Because this type of tax is regressive, we met with the mayor to identify opportunities that could limit the impact on those with the fewest resources.
We support the investments for Regional One and new schools. We support viable revenue options that fund these investments. The County Commission should not dismiss the current revenue solution without having a clear, viable solution to secure these investments that can achieve the votes needed to pass. We encourage all County Commissioners to vote to approve the wheel tax increase on its first reading at the June 5th meeting. This allows the Commissioners and the public to review and compare any alternatives that should arise at the meeting. If there is an equitable proposal that will limit negative impacts while showing viability and sustainability, we look forward to seeing that and comparing it to the wheel tax proposal.