Mayor Kip Holden has presented a $989 million proposed tax increase for the citizens of EBR Parish.  The tax would last for 30 years.  Part of Holden’s tax plan includes building a new prison.  The Mayor refused to seperate the plan into components so voters could consider each improvement on its own merit.  So are we ready to pay for a new prison in the Red Stick? 

The new EBR Parish prison will cost taxpayers $135 million out of the new tax plan, providing 2,280 beds for inmates.  Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said,  “a new prison is needed to ensure that criminals do not walk the streets”.  I beg to differ.  Building a prison won’t keep criminals off our streets.  The problem is much bigger than housing. 

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said “1,700 prisoners are behind bars in a facility meant to hold 1,594” in a Baton Rouge Business Report interview.  Gautreaux also said that the new facility of 2,280 beds is “more than enough space to meet projected needs of 2,135 by the year 2025.”  These figures make no sense to me.  1,700 inmates plus 339 inmates currently housed outside the parish adds up to 2,039.  Are we to believe there will only be 241 additional inmates to house over the next 17 years?  That’s only 14 new prisoners annually. 

This is part of the problem with a 30 year tax proposal.  By the time we get a few years behind us, we are already working in a deficit.  Statistics can be made to sound good, but when you take the magnifying glass and take a closer look – well, not such a rosy picture is presented.

The bottom line is that we need to determine if building a new prison is a priority for the taxpayers.  This is just one component of a multi-faceted tax plan that Mayor Kip Holden wants you and your children to pay for the next 30 years.

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux would do well to study Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix who did not ask for a tax increase to build additional prisons until he created a tent city and showed that he could control spending and do away with the luxuries of prison life.  Let’s get rid of the color televisions and weight rooms and spend tax dollars on basics before we start paying more taxes for a new prison.

In 2000, the taxpayers voted down a tax proposal to renovate the prison with a 60% vote against the tax, and with only 10% showing up at the polls.  Fast forward 8 years to today.  We have spent an average of $7.7 million annually on the prison.  Sorry, but we need to spend money more wisely and on the neighborhood programs and facilities vs. a nicer facility for those who are a threat to society.  I say NO to higher taxes to fund a new prison.

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican