Early voting ends Saturday for state amendment ballot

Staff Report

Early voting continues through Saturday at the Iberville Iberville Parish Registrars for four state constitutional amendments on a ballot for the Nov. 13 election.

The early voting will be from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Iberville Parish Registrar Office on the second floor of the Iberville Parish Courthouse.

Among those amendments is a proposal that would redirect parish taxes to a single state agency and another that would decrease the maximum rate of individual income tax.

Amendment 1 would create the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission. The first meeting of the commission must be called by the speaker of the House of Representatives no later than one year after its duties are established by state law.

The commission would be comprised of eight members, one appointed by each of the following:

  • the Louisiana School Boards Association;
  • the Louisiana Municipal Association;
  • the Police Jury Association of Louisiana;
  • the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association;
  • the Department of Revenue or a designee of the secretary;
  • the governor;
  • the speaker of the House of Representatives; and
  • the president of the Senate.

The role of the commission would be to provide streamlined electronic filing and collection of all sales and use taxes. It would also be responsible for promulgating rules related to all sales and use taxes levied by any taxing authority in the state as well as developing regulations and guidance to "simplify and streamline the audit process for sales and use taxpayers,” according to the Public Affairs Research Council.

Randal Dunn, CFO for Iberville Parish Government, urged voters on social media to oppose the measure.

"In my 25-plus years as a parish employee, there has been no Constitutional Amendment more important to vote NO on more than Constitutional Amendment No. 1,” he said. “This Amendment, if passed, will cripple the sales tax base of the Cities, School Board, and Parish by creating a honor system in paying parish taxes to the state with no accountability or audit consequence.”

Amendment 2 would amend the Louisiana Constitution to decrease the maximum rate of individual income tax from 6 percent to 4.75 percent, according to PAR.

The amendment triggers implementation of a package of bills that swaps an unusual tax deduction that virtually no other states have for an across-the-board cut in individual and corporate income tax rates and a cut in corporate franchise taxes.

For individuals, the top income tax rate would drop from 6 percent to 4.25 percent and similar reductions would be made in the other two brackets.

If approved, the decrease in tax rate would take effect in 2022 and provide in state law through House Bill 278 that the tax bracket rates beginning 2022 for an individual would be 1.75 percent on the first $12,500 of net income, 3.50 percent on the next income up to $50,000 and 4.25 percent on income above $50,000.

A "no" vote opposes decreasing the maximum individual income tax rates for tax years beginning in 2022, thereby maintaining the maximum individual income tax rates for an individual of 2 percent on the first $12,500 of net income, 4 percent on the next net income up to $50,000, and 6 percent on income above $50,000.

Amendment 3 applies a property tax limit of five mills ($5 per $1,000 of assessed value) in levee districts created after 2006 in levee districts where a majority of voters approve the 2021 constitutional amendment

A “yes” vote supports allowing Louisiana levee districts created after 2006 to levy an annual property tax up to five mills -- $5.00 per $1,000 of assessed value – without voter approval if those districts approve the 2021 constitutional amendment. In districts that do not approve the amendment, voter approval would continue to be required to levy a property tax.

A “no” vote opposes the amendment, thereby continuing to require that levee districts created after 2016 get voter approval to levy a property tax.

The amendment would not affect the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District.

Amendment 4 Increases the amount of funds (from 5 percent to 10 percent) that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.

A “yes” vote supports increasing the amount of funds from 5 percent to 10 percent that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.

A “no” vote opposes increasing the amount of funds that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit, thereby maintaining the current limit of funding reductions to 5 percent of the total appropriation.

According to the state constitution, appropriations from the state general fund and other dedicated funds may not exceed the fiscal year's official forecast containing estimated state revenues and expenditures that is prepared by the Revenue Estimating Conference. The state legislature may provide by law a process for adjusting appropriations if a budget deficit is forecasted.

If a deficit still exists, the governor can take further action with a majority vote of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget (JLCB) to eliminate the deficit. One of the things the governor and the JLCB can do is reduce constitutionally protected or mandated allocations and appropriations.

When preparing for a budget deficit in the next fiscal year, if revenues are projected to be at least 1 percent less than the current fiscal year, appropriations or allocations from any fund established by state law or mandated by the state constitution may be dedicated to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or in the constitution.