La. voters to vote on four proposed constitutional amendments on Nov. 13
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As early voting begins on Saturday voters across Louisiana will cast ballots on four proposed amendments to the state’s constitution.
Amendment 1 would centralize sales tax collection and have a single commission be in charge in of such collections. Currently, the state collects sales taxes and so do local governments. The commission would have four members representing the state and four representing local agencies.
Kimberly Lewis leads Louisiana’s Department of Revenue and she spoke about the intent of Amendment during a webinar hosted by the Bureau of Governmental Research which is based in New Orleans.
“The idea is to have the commission collect sales tax on behalf of all sales tax collecting bodies,” said Lewis.
Economist Jim Richardson and Professor Emeritus at LSU also took part in the BGR panel.
“Right now, we have essentially locals, the state, the motor vehicles and we have the remote sellers. This is going to combine all of those particular functions and it is then going to distribute the money,” said Richardson.
But New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell urges voters to reject Amendment 1. In a letter, she calls it a power grab that would have a “drastic impact on the city’s financial stability.”
Robert Collins, PhD., is a political analyst at Dillard University. “She has had some issues with other commissions not giving, in her opinion, not giving the city their fair share or not giving the city their fair share quick enough,” said Collins.
Cantrell’s letter further says, “We have seen time and time again how state-level commissions like to withhold critical funding for New Orleans when they do not get their way.”
Collins commented on that concern.
“Her stated concern is that she’s afraid the tax revenue could get hung up in Baton Rouge,” he said.
Lewis says some other local governments have concerns.
“The main issue for some of the local governments is making sure that the revenue is there when they expect it to be there. Having it go to another body first and have to be distributed back to them is one of the primary concerns from local governments about this new entity,” Lewis stated.
Amendment 2 would lower Louisiana’s maximum rate for individual income tax from 6% TO 4.75% and eliminate the deduction for federal taxes tax filers pay.
“It will apply to your taxable income, and you’ll not have the deduction for federal taxes paid,” said Richardson.
Collins said business groups that want Amendment 2 to pass must get voters who agree to the polls.
“Whether or not that amendment passes is going to depend on whether or not the business organizations that support it or able to target their voters educate them about their position and them get them to polls,” said Collins.
That aside, Collins says voters do tend to have a big interest in whether or not their taxes will increase.
“The average taxpayer simply wants to know will my taxes go up or will my taxes go down. That’s the argument that the proponents or the opponents are going to have to make,” said Collins.
Amendment 3 allows some levee districts to raise up to a 5-mill property tax without voter approval and Amendment 4 would clear the way for the transfer of more dedicated state funds to solve state budget deficits.
Collins says more voter education is needed about the amendments.
“The language is complex, and most voters don’t really understand what they’re about and as a result most voters either they skip them, they don’t vote at all or if they do vote and if they don’t understand them they simply vote no,” he said.
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