Mitch Landrieu sees wins, losses in legislative session

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 4 at 5:53 AM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- The 2014 session of the Louisiana Legislature is in the books as lawmakers adjourned for the year Monday night.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu had an ambitious agenda. He ended up with both wins and losses.

"We didn't win everything that we wanted, but we got a lot," said Landrieu, who spent at least one day every week during the session lobbying in Baton Rouge.

Lawmakers turned down his request to raise taxes on cigarettes and hotel rooms in New Orleans. Landrieu said the city needs the money to cover new federal mandates for the police department and jail operation, and court ordered payments to the firefighters pension fund.

"The people of New Orleans give a huge gift to the people of the state by hosting all of these events, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to send all of that money up to Baton Rouge and Washington and not have the resources we need to provide police and fire," said Landrieu. "I think if the state is not going to give us permission, they ought to give us the ability to decide for ourselves, and I think that was a little unfortunate."

On the plus side, lawmakers granted the mayor's request to shrink New Orleans Juvenile Court from six judges to four judges.

His big win was a bill calling for a statewide vote to decide whether the city can raise property tax for police and fire protection.

"It gave the city more capacity to go talk to the public and say how do you want to fund streets, how do you want to fund police, how do you want to fund fire, how do you want to have that compete with the kind of cuts that we have," Landrieu said.

The measure had the backing of police organizations.

"We're behind anything that ensures that our officers can get a living wage and that our officers are able to stay and more officers will come to be with us and serve to protect our citizens and visitors as well," said FOP spokesman and attorney Raymond Burkart III.

The new law would allow the City Council to raise the property tax for fire and police from 4 up to 10 mils with voter approval.

Councilman Jared Brossett, a former state lawmaker, said that figures to be a tough discussion.

"All seven of us will have to get together and look at it carefully," said Brossett. "We have to let the public know what dollars are there, what dollars we need to capture to fulfill the services, the essential services that we need at this time."

The tax increase has a long way to go. First, voters statewide and in Orleans Parish would have to approve the increase in November. Then, New Orleans voters would have to approve it again in an election set by the City Council.

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