Once again, the voters of East Baton Rouge Parish took to the polls on Saturday to say no to Mayor-President Kip Holden’s proposed $901 million bond issue. Voters rejected paying an half-cent sales tax increase and a 9.9 mill property tax to fund questionable projects in 2008, and repeated that message on Saturday.
The message is simple. City Parish government needs to live within its’ means.
Senate District 16 is known as the most influential voting district in East Baton Rouge Parish. Out of 103 voting precincts in District 16, 100 precincts voted NO to Holden’s tax increase. Quite telling.
Unfortunately, Mayor-President Kip Holden and his entourage refuse to listen to those who elected him and appear to be considering a third run at the tax increase. During the 10:00 p.m. WAFB news report, Holden, while claiming the voters turned their backs on the Mississippi River, hinted at regrouping for a third push at raising taxes.
What is most amazing is that Holden convinced businesses and political allies to donate more than $600,000 on a tax-increase campaign to convince voters to say yes. The people would have been better served if those funds would have been used in the development of public-private partnerships than a poorly planned and executed tax increase campaign.
Holden pulled out the stops by garnering support from an endless list of politically motivated individuals and groups such as the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) who receives $500,000 annually from Holden for economic development. Other key supporters included architects, contractors, attorneys and developers who stood to gain financially if the bond issue passed.
On the other side of the issue, a very effective campaign was run by volunteers associated with the Baton Rouge Tea Party in their Beat the Bond message to voters. The Tea Party spent less than 3% of the funds raised by their opponents, bringing home a victory with nearly a 3-to-1 vote against the tax increase with 64% voting no to higher taxes.
There is no doubt that this is not the final word on Holden’s plan to increase city-parish spending by passing it on to taxpayers. Likewise, I believe the voters have gained strength by proving their vote can make a difference.
Voters are more savvy than in any time in history. They have witnessed their federal tax dollars flowing into the coffers of financial institutions and car manufacturers, not to mention the dollars pumped into special interests.
The seeds of deception Holden and his entourage sowed with the Metro Council and EBRP voters, no doubt, played a key role in the defeat of his tax proposal. Once trust is violated, it’s a losing proposition.
Finally, Holden needs to learn that holding fast to a bullying mentality toward those who expressed concern or questioned his decision to increase taxes is no way to win over the public. Voters have grown weary of political games, and expressed their disdain for this type of behavior.
The greatest event arising from the proposed tax increase was the involvement and feedback from voters who have been silent in the past. As the Baton Rouge Tea Party says, Silent Majority No More!
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican