This column publishes every Sunday through Thursday around noon U.S. Central Time (maybe even after sundown on busy days, or maybe before noon if things work out, or even sometimes on the weekend if there's big news) except whenever a significant national holiday falls on the Sunday through Thursday associated with the otherwise-usual publication on the previous day (unless it is Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Christmas, or New Year's Day when it is the day on which the holiday is observed by the U.S. government). In my opinion, in addition to these are also Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.
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As Shreveport suffers with one of the worst large-city economies in the country, the last thing it should want to do is increase taxes. Yet that’s exactly what it has queued up for voters in just over a couple of weeks.
Going for a third bite of the apple, Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins, with unanimous City Council assent, wants to put five brand-spanking new property taxes on the menu to fund a range of infrastructure items paid by debt. A similar but smaller package divided into three items narrowly failed in 2019, and earlier this year Council reticence caused Perkins to withdraw a proposal of four measures for an amount a bit smaller than the $236 million now up for voter approval.
Events since the 2019 failure have both aided and conspired against chances of passage. Even with a booming economy under Republican former Pres. Donald Trump, voters rejected the items, one dealing with water and sewerage, another with roads, and an omnibus proposal for buildings addressing public safety and parks and recreation. The package earlier this year split out public safety from other construction, and the current iteration created a separate technology item.
Of course Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards won’t commit to vetoing any Louisiana congressional redistricting plan that doesn’t have two majority-minority districts: such a move loses, both politically and practically.
While some Louisianan legislators and special interests have stumped for doubling the number of such House of Representatives districts in the state out of six because its black population almost has reached a third of the population, Edwards publicly refuses to join in definitively. As governor, he has a chance to influence the process because he has veto power over the law implementing any reapportionment. Further, while the Louisiana Senate has a supermajority of Republicans that could override a veto, the House of Representatives comes up two seats short.
However, in practical terms any arrangement that squeezes out two of these would face tremendous constitutional problems, as this would violate Supreme Court jurisprudence that does not allow for drawing boundaries making racial composition the primary consideration while ignoring other desirable criteria. If somehow Edwards could strongarm into life such a plan, it would be challenged legally, elections in 2022 would continue under the current map, and eventually the federal judiciary extremely likely would declare it unconstitutional.
Louisiana state government subsidizing private sector nuclear reactors may be in taxpayers’ future, if Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ “net zero” scheme sees the light of day.
Last year, Edwards jaunted into Climate Derangement Syndrome with his establishment of a task force whose goals included by 2025 reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, by 2030 by 40 to 50 percent of that level; and by 2050 reducing emissions to net zero. So far, the group hasn’t disgorged anything specific, although a final report doing so will come forth early next year, but it appears to pursue both front-end strategies of reducing emissions at their source by turning away from fossil fuel use and at the back end by carbon sequestration.
Never mind these goals are both ruinously expensive – with such a strategy costing the typical ratepayer an estimated $90 a month more through 2035 – and physically impossible to achieve. Just to give one example of the latter, the demand for precious metals needed in batteries to make nonrenewable energy source use feasible gobbles up the world’s entire proven reserves of these – and one of the crucial metals involved, cobalt, China now monopolizes in part thanks to a deal brokered by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Shreveport’s City Council continues to take a step away from reality with its recent endorsement of a rental dwelling unit registration program, on top of an increase in the minimum wage paid to city employees.
Both measures advanced in last week’s meeting. The increase comes not as an ordinance but as part of the 2022 budget, about matching New Orleans’ plans to do the same. Both cities are in economic decline relative to other U.S. cities their sizes, and raising the wage has a demonstrable negative impact on economic growth, even if just limited to municipal employees because of increased taxpayer costs and the knock-on effect it has on private sector wages.
Yet the extra requirements and costs of landlords might do more economic long-term damage. They would have to cough up $65 initially per unit, and then $30 each year, as well as if needed pay to put properties into compliance according to a proposed list of 12 items. This adds definitions to vague state law whose Civil Code orders landlords to ensure maintenance of the property in a “suitable” condition for the purpose for which it was leased. The Metropolitan Planning Commission would administer it, presumably funded by these user fees.