As voters head to the polls today, here’s a recap of our editorial positions on some choices area voters will face.
Governor — John Bel Edwards
Four years ago, the State Capitol was a mess. The budget was woefully out of balance, the state had been run on one-time money that had run out, colleges and universities had been underfunded and vital services disrupted for children and families.
Gov. John Bel Edwards made a dramatic difference, which is why The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate endorses him for a second term.
While a Democrat in a Republican-leaning state, Edwards has not let party politics get in the way of building coalitions among members of the Legislature. His appointments have been in Louisiana’s bipartisan tradition. Now, the state budget is stabilized, there have been landmark criminal justice reforms supported by both conservatives and liberals, Medicaid expansion has stabilized rural hospitals and provided care for more than 465,000 Louisianans, and education is getting more support from the State Capitol. We believe this progress would continue with Edwards remaining at the helm.
St. Tammany Parish President — Pat Brister
A two-term incumbent with a solid record, Pat Brister has faced hard challenges in St. Tammany Parish, including the continuing struggle for infrastructure money to manage growth. Brister has worked successfully to secure funding for vitally needed projects such as widening Interstate 12. She also tackled the tough job of cutting the budget after voters rejected sales tax renewals, causing a $25 million loss of revenue.
Brister’s record includes some mistakes, including the creation of economic development districts that levied additional sales taxes without going to the ballot. But her experience in leading St. Tammany through rapid but stressful growth has shown her to be a leader who merits a third term.
$500 Million New Orleans Bond Proposition — For
This measure would allow New Orleans to issue new capital improvement bonds supported by existing taxes, with $250 million slated for street and drainage improvements, $225 for public facilities and public safety equipment and $25 million for affordable housing. It would also allow the city to draw down federal resources such as FEMA funding for post-Katrina repairs.
3-Mill New Orleans Property Tax Proposition — For
Technically a millage increase, this proposition would effectively replace a different tax that dropped off the books last year. The proceeds would provide an estimated $12 million annually, with 50% going toward streets and drainage, 35% toward facilities and 15% to maintain, repair and replace vehicles.
New Orleans Short-Term Rental Tax Proposition — For
When Mayor LaToya Cantrell set out to secure a “Fair Share” of tourism revenue for city infrastructure, an increase in the tax on short-term rentals through companies such as Airbnb was high on her list. This measure would authorize the city to collect an additional tax of up to 6.75% on STR stays, with 75% of the revenue dedicated to a special infrastructure fund for the city and Sewerage & Water Board and 25% to New Orleans & Company, which promotes tourism.