OUR VIEW: Voice your choice at May 4th election

Education is vital to a free society.

That’s not an earth-shattering statement, but it’s a truism we must always keep in mind. The more information that is available, the sounder the decision-making process can be. Being able to weigh the pros and cons of an issue is essential to solving it.

The Terrebonne Parish School District has enflamed public opinion via its proposal to raise the parishwide millage rate it collects from 9.27 to 40 mills.

It is an increase that will likely escalate the cost of living for every Terrebonne Parish resident. As property taxes rise, so will rent and services as landlords and business owners try to offset increased expenses.

The school board and superintendent contend the higher tax would put the parish’s school system on equal footing with public education systems throughout the state. They’ve about maxed out their potential on the current revenue stream and this boost is necessary to serve a system that is bursting at the seams and last in per-pupil expenditures in the state, officials say.

But opponents – most notably, the Chamber of Commerce – have decried the size of the hike and the clarity of plans to spend it. Does the system need to triple its property-tax revenue? If it is necessary, and if the voters shoulder the burden to pass it, shouldn’t they know how specifically each dollar will be spent?

For all the stress it has caused the people pushing the tax and those opposing it, this proposition should be lauded as a keystone example of why the right for citizens to choose is a beautiful facet of American life.

On one hand, elected officials have hollered about the tax’s importance enough to turn their faces purple. Yet, its fate rests on which button the majority opts to press.

A blanket anti-tax mindset is not conducive to building a functioning society. But neither is treating elected officials’ desires as the gospel. As a populous we have the right to dedicate tax money to the issues we deem worthy.

We will not tell you how you should vote, but we have over the past few months presented the pros and cons of each ballot initiative ahead of May 4. If you haven’t yet, please familiarize yourself with the information – our entire archive is online at www.tri-parishtimes.com.

The school system tax steals the headlines, but don’t gloss over the importance of the Bayou Lafourche freshwater proposal. The same should be said for recreation, hospital and veterans’ proposals in Lafourche and St. Mary parishes.

We will, as always, urge you to vote. And we will, as always, urge you to educate yourself on the propositions at hand.