It looks like New Orleans has competition for the most ridiculously leftist local government in Louisiana – Caddo Parish.
Because on one important metric – implementing a pilot program for a universal basic income – while Orleans has talked a good game, Caddo has walked the walk, pulling along its main population center of Shreveport. Last year, both New Orleans and Shreveport’s mayors signed up for participation in this program organized by Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (headed by a former mayor turned out of office because of his support of ideas like this) with money donated largely by Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square founder.
The idea of paying every family a fixed amount of money every month, when as a sole means of income security without any additional public welfare programs, isn’t bad. But this program seeks not to replace but to supplement existing programs, to negative effect as research has demonstrated. Nevertheless, in the middle of a statewide drubbing in his running for U.S. senator, Shreveport Democrat Mayor Adrian Perkins signed on, later joined by Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
To date, New Orleans hasn’t moved beyond the conceptual stage. However, this week Shreveport did, with its City Council authorizing Perkins’ request to send essentially over the course of 2022 nearly $900,000 to 110 single-parent families drawing incomes just over the poverty limit on down with dependent children of school age. Predictably, the four Democrat councilors voted in favor, with the three Republicans opposed.
But what spurred the actual kickoff was that nearly half the funds came from Caddo Parish. In a little-observed action taken at its Aug. 5 meeting, the Caddo Parish Commission voted to give $432,000 in taxpayer dollars to Shreveport for this effort. That 7-5 vote on Ordinance No. 6080 pertained to the parish’s disposition of American Rescue Plan dollars, doling out the first half of over $46 million the parish had allocated from the $1.9 trillion orgy in federal spending rammed into law by Democrats earlier this year.
The amendment to front the money to Shreveport attracted votes from all Democrats except John Atkins and Republican John-Paul Young, while all other Republicans opposed it. Then all commissioners voted in favor of the final ordinance.
In essence, the parish voted to give free taxpayer money for no good reason to 110 lucky families. Consider how inappropriate is this decision when already such families draw a kind of UBI from the ARP, in the form of a refundable child tax credit worth up to $300 a child per month for the next year. Or that this UBI experiment only makes work even less attractive and the dole more appealing, as (using data now nearly a decade old) the households that will receive this boost of at least $600 a month are typical of those that receive government benefits that in Louisiana (then; the figures are significant higher now) are worth over $3 a hour greater than the minimum wage.
This horrible decision is just the latest in a growing number made by the Commission, reflecting a trend extending back over a decade when it hit the jackpot due natural gas exploration. Since 2005, its budget has increased by over 22 percent even as the parish shrunk by almost 7 percent in population from 2010-20 (by contrast, adjacent parishes De Soto and especially Bossier have gained residents).
Besides increased profligacy, it also has deteriorated into increasingly shrill woke leftism on non-pecuniary matters. Perhaps neither is surprising from the highest paid part-time local government officials in the state who make about half again as much as a full-time minimum wage worker for working far fewer hours.
It will be two more years before voters get a crack at reining in such poor policy-making, typically led by its Democrat majority, yet elections may not change that. But what voters can do before and after then is to vote down parish tax measures including renewals; seeing as the parish has so much money to waste, it can afford to go on a tax diet.