State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office says he will not offer an opinion on the constitutionality of the parish bus tax passed in April.
The opinion was sought last month by state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, who argued that the tax elections violated equal protection laws because people outside the taxing district would receive bus service.
Capital Area Transit System officials have long contended that the vast majority of bus service is within the city limits. But limited service would extend outside the city limits to areas such as the Gardere Lane area, the Mall of Louisiana and Perkins Rowe.
In a July 30 letter to Claitor, assistant Attorney General Richard L. McGimsey writes that the office will not provide opinions on issues “where the matter is the subject of pending or imminent litigation.”
“Based on the public comments of various parties it is apparent that litigation is imminent,” McGimsey wrote.
Claitor said he understands the AG’s position, given that a lawsuit was filed Friday contesting the constitutionality of the election.
“The court system will make appropriate and fair rulings in this matter, if the litigants get the real facts before the court and establish a solid record at the trial level,” Claitor said.
On Friday, Milton Graugnard, executive vice president of Cajun Industries, filed a petition for the same reasons mentioned in Claitor’s request to the attorney general, asking a judge for a permanent injunction preventing the agency from receiving any revenue generated by the tax.
Voters in Baton Rouge and Baker approved the 10.6 mill property tax in April. It’s expected to generate an additional 16 million annually for the 12 million budget.
The tax was proposed to provide a dedicated source of revenue for the chronically broke bus system. The addition of funds are expected to expand and improve services.