If Mitch Landrieu is an old hand at the legislative process, having served as lieutenant governor and before that in the state House, he’s also something of an unreasonable optimist.
The mayor of New Orleans is having a pretty rough session, as lawmakers aren’t responding well to the tough medicine he is proposing for the city’s ills in his second term.
A series of bills would have authorized the city to raise taxes to pay for what are manifestly needed services, but legislative approval has proved a roadblock.
A tobacco tax increase, just in Orleans Parish, appears dead in the House, and a hotel tax increase is about as moribund. Only a bill to authorize the City Council to hold an election on a property tax increase remains viable.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Landrieu has to admit that: “Everything always stays in play until the end of session,” he said.
We admire his pluck. And it’s a bit ridiculous for legislators in Bossier City or Bunkie to decide whether the voters of New Orleans should tax themselves, but that’s the way Louisiana’s convoluted system works.
If the property tax bill is passed, for example, it only allows a vote of the people and does not directly levy the tax.
Certainly, we share the mayor’s concerns about the city’s financial situation, as millions are needed for an expanded police force and other pressing needs.
For that reason, we wish the mayor well, but he will probably have to settle for one of his priorities, and then have to sell the tax increase to the council and the voters.