This voter education guide is published primarily as a resource and does not constitute an endorsement of any candidate or proposition by ANTIGRAVITY Magazine.
Welcome once again to your ANTIGRAVITY voter education for the April 30 election. This is a single-item ballot for a proposed new property tax that would be dedicated to funding early childhood education.
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We suggest you bring a photo ID to the polls, but if you do not have one you can still cast a ballot by signing a voter affidavit, which vouches for your identity.
If you have a disability, you are entitled to receive assistance to cast your vote. If your assigned polling place is not accessible, you can vote at the nearest polling place with the same ballot or at the Registrar of Voters Office.
The makeup of this ballot, including names of candidates and information about how, where, and when to register and vote is based on information provided by the Louisiana Secretary of State and the City of New Orleans website. For info on what your ballot looks like, as well as information about disability and voting, go to the SoS website, voterportal.sos.la.gov.
Early Childhood Education
5 Mills – 20 Yrs.
Shall the City of New Orleans be authorized to enhance early childhood development and education in New Orleans through the levy of a special tax of 5 mills on all taxable property within Orleans Parish for a period of twenty years (January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2042), with all tax proceeds dedicated exclusively to programs and capital investments that provide childcare and educational opportunities for Orleans Parish children who have not yet entered kindergarten, and with an estimated collection during the initial year of $21,274,959 if the foregoing special tax is levied in full?
Early childhood education programs help narrow educational gaps between rich and poor kids. Children who participate are more likely to finish high school and college and less likely to get in trouble with the legal system.
These programs also give kids something safe and beneficial to do while their parents are at work, which is crucial when even rudimentary day care programs can be extremely expensive in the U.S.
But public funding for early childhood ed right now is scarce: The City has said about 7,000 kids from low-income families could benefit from such a program, but there’s only funding for about 200 under a current City offering. Advocates say this property tax could provide funding for another 1,000 children, with another 1,000 potentially provided by state matching funds.
As The Lens notes, the approved agreement to match funding includes “a one-time payment of $500,000 to the school district for outreach and marketing concerning early childhood seats”; also, “$1 million per year would go to administrative costs for Agenda for Children, a nonprofit organization authorized by the state to coordinate early childhood education in the city.” A spokeswoman for the Yes for NOLA Kids campaign, which backs the millage, told The Lens that this money would cover staffing and oversight for the program.
Critics of the measure include the ERASE The BOARD movement—which challenges New Orleans’ chaotic conversion to charter schools in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—and recent City Council candidate Bob Murrell. They point to these costs, the fact that the majority of those 7,000 children still won’t receive help through the program, and the composition of the Agenda for Children board, which like so many nonprofits has its share of banking and legal industry bigwigs as directors.
The proposed property tax would be 5 mills, or $5 per $1,000 of assessed value. In typical tax law math, the assessed value of a Louisiana residence is legally 10% of its market price. Advocates point out the tax would come to about $5.20 per month on a $200,000 house with a homestead exemption (which exempts the first $75,000 of market value from most taxation), and that math seems to check out.
When early childhood education funding last appeared on the ballot in 2020, it was part of a complex array of propositions that many advocacy groups opposed and voters rejected, as they would have shifted funds away from the New Orleans Public Library. Now, the new measure doesn’t take money away from anything else—except a few dollars a month from typical property owners—and it has won endorsements from a wide range of groups, from the business-focused New Orleans Chamber of Commerce to Court Watch NOLA, according to the Yes for NOLA Kids campaign. The nonprofit Bureau of Governmental Research also backs the program.
Expanding early childhood education is crucial in moving towards a more equitable city. This millage, at maximum potential, would provide seats for 10 times the number of children that it currently does—the positive ripple effect that would have is huge. But as with any piece of legislation that gives a large chunk of cash to a nonprofit—whose leaders are unelected and whose actions are less trackable to the general public—caution is warranted. A system that provided early childhood education through traditional public schools or grassroots-run programs would be great. This millage isn’t that, but it should at least provide more educational access to some children in Orleans Parish who could benefit.
Summary: This millage and possible state matching funds could provide funding for up to 10 times as many seats for early childhood education as is currently provided. The millage isn’t perfect, but it would cost homeowners a couple dollars per month, and at least it would not divert funding from anything else.
Early voting begins April 16 and runs through April 23 (excluding Sunday, April 17) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 26 by 4:30 p.m. (other than military and overseas voters).
The deadline for a registrar of voters to receive a voted absentee ballot is April 29 by 4:30 p.m. (other than military and overseas voters).
Saturday, April 30, election voting hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
1300 Perdido Street 70112
225 Morgan Street 70114
Chef Menteur Voting Machine Warehouse Site
8870 Chef Menteur Highway 70126
Lake Vista Community Center
6500 Spanish Fort Blvd. 70124
Tuesday, November 8
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