Whatever Kip Holden and his supporters might try to say about the direction East Baton Rouge Parish is moving in, and the progress they’re making, the latest facts are pretty damning to their record of stewardship.
Between 2007 and 2011, East Baton Rouge Parish lost an estimated 1,463 more residents than it gained, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday on national county-to-county migration patterns.
There are your facts. Now, here’s the spin.
Nevertheless, East Baton Rouge Parish gained nearly twice as many graduate and professional degree-holders than it lost, attracting several hundred more people than it lost with an annual household income in the $100,000 or above range.
“I think this is good news to keep the local economy strong,” said William Daniel, chief administrative officer to East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden.
Daniel said he expects that trend to continue. “We feel like we’re going to be attracting more higher-income residents,” he said. “That’s a reflection of our success in recruiting better paying jobs.”
Gaining rich people and folks with advanced degrees is terrific. But what EBR lost was the middle class. And if you lose the middle class, you’re going to watch neighborhoods decline, property values drop (meaning that tax rates will need to increase to maintain revenues) and the schools get worse.
That’s the same cycle which produced Detroit. At the beginning of Detroit’s decline there were rich folks moving into the nice neighborhoods, while the middle class decamped for the suburbs. Pretty soon the rich started leaving as well once the policy implications of the demographic decline began kicking in.
It’s great that East Baton Rouge picked up people with advanced degrees. If you’re not adding regular, ordinary taxpayers to go with them, and in fact if you’re losing more of the regular folks than you’re gaining of the sophisticates, you’re unsustainable.
These numbers make a good case for St. George. East Baton Rouge Parish needs a demographic growth center, and it needs it badly. St. George is the best shot at one the parish has, and yet the smart set in the parish is trying to stop it from coming into being.