Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Mayor-President Kip Holden is again trying to pass a tax increase to fund infrastructure improvements for East Baton Rouge. This year's version is more focused, honing in on items related to public safety with a price tag of $335 million. His plan would fund a larger jail, a mental health facility, and new offices for the district attorney.
Most of us are supportive of improvements that make our community a safer place. But already, two things about this plan cause us concern. The increase in the sales tax will make ours one of the highest in the nation. Also, sales taxes are regressive hitting hardest those who are poor or on fixed incomes. Our second major concern is the proposed May election date for voters to approve the plan. That date is almost certain to guarantee a low turnout. We think something this important should be included in a bigger election later in the year. Having said that, Mayor Holden deserves a political courage award for putting this forward now. Not too many politicians propose a tax increase at the same time they announce their candidacy for a statewide office as he did.