Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"A political murder victim"

According to State Legislators, Mayor Landrieu's police millage hike failed last year as an act of political retribution. 
State Sen. J.P. Morrell, who supports the tax increase, blames the failure on political spite. “There was a hit out on Mitch Landrieu bills, and unfortunately, that bill got caught in the crossfire,” Morrell, D-New Orleans, said Monday.
Morrell did not comment on whether the police protection bill was "hit" with baseball bats but he did go on to call it was paraphrased by this reporter as having called it a "murder victim."
Morrell characterized last year’s tax increase bill as a political murder victim. He said a lot of the mayor’s legislative packaged died, and he is uncertain why.

“There was a lot of politics afoot,” he said.

Morrell said it is clear more money is needed, especially for the Police Department. He said the department needs competitive wages in order to recruit officers.

(State Rep. Jeff) Arnold, leery of a past library tax under a previous administration, said he wants to see the budget numbers. He recalled when the city wanted a library tax increase. Once the increase passed, he said, the city added in the extra dollars and pulled out pre-existing money it was spending on libraries, making the tax hike a wash for the library’s budget.

This year’s legislation, House Bill 111, includes language that the additional revenues “shall not displace, replace or supplant funding by the city of New Orleans for fire and police protection for calendar year 2013.”
Arnold should understand the difference between dedicated millage funding and annual appropriations from the city's general fund which can be pulled back at any time. Moving from the latter to the former makes a big difference as far as ensuring a predictable annual budget is concerned regardless of whether the city decides to supplement that in any given year with discretionary funds. 

From NOPD's perspective, it's thoughtful of Arnold to try and ensure that this ends up being a net gain for their total budget but it's not correct to say the overall effect would be "a wash" if the millage passes.

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