What do college management boards, parish registrars of voters and military veterans have in common? They’ll all have issues on the Nov. 8 ballot, when, among many other things, Louisiana voters go to the polls to decide the fate of six potential amendments to the state constitution. Thankfully, the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has developed a guide to help voters understand what a yes or no vote will mean for each amendment. Here’s a summation of the PAR guide.
AMENDMENT 1: Allows the Legislature to establish new qualifications for local registrars of voters, such as minimum education and workforce experience requirements.
The argument for: Parishes need skilled registrars who can help their offices keep up with digital voting trends, and it could force some parishes to hire more qualified applicants.
The argument against: This change may prevent some skilled assistant registrars in rural parishes from getting the head job, because the job requirements for assistants are lower.
AMENDMENT 2: Would grant the state’s higher education management boards autonomy to set their own tuition and fee rates.
The argument for: Universities and colleges need more flexibility to raise their rates—particularly as state funding dries up—to finance their operations and put out a quality product.
The argument against: Instead of letting tuition rates rise even further, lawmakers could focus on increasing the state’s investment in higher ed.
AMENDMENT 3: Eliminates Louisiana’s federal income tax deduction for C-corporations on state tax returns and sets a flat tax rate.
The argument for: Eliminating the deduction would bring Louisiana in line with other states, and the flat tax rate, as opposed to the current tiered system, would be more fair for businesses.
The argument against: While projections vary on this amendment’s impact on the state’s coffers, the change likely won’t be substantial, and the law would unfairly target C-corporations and not other business entities.
AMENDMENT 4: Creates a property tax exemption for surviving spouses of military veterans, National Guard members, law enforcement officers and fire fighters killed in the line of duty.
The argument for: Widows and widowers who might be struggling to make ends meet could use the break.
The argument against: If the trend of property tax exemptions continues, more and more breaks could be passed, creating a hole in the state’s budget.
AMENDMENT 5: Would divert some of the state’s mineral revenues into the newly created Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund, used both for safekeeping and for paying off the state’s unfunded accrued liability.
The argument for: This would introduce some fiscal restraint and make it harder for legislators to access certain mineral revenues, and it would help pay off the state’s growing unfunded accrued liabilities.
The argument against: Louisiana’s state funds are tied to far too many statutory dedications, handcuffing lawmakers when cuts need to be made.
AMENDMENT 6: Instead of only letting lawmakers tap into certain protected funds when revenue projections for next fiscal year are at least 1% below the current fiscal year projections, this amendment would give lawmakers access to those funds should next year’s estimates be revised downward by at least 1%, regardless of the current fiscal year situation. It also would make five more funds impossible for lawmakers to touch.
The argument for: This amendment would give lawmakers more leeway in accessing dedicated funds to make more evenly distributed budget cuts, all while protecting certain important funds.
The argument against: This amendment would merely encourage lawmakers to use one-time fixes—which aren’t guaranteed to reappear—to patch annual budget holes, and it actually would further restrain lawmakers by granting constitutional protection to five more funds.