Crucial constitutional amendments go before voters Saturday

Staff Report

A small turnout is expected locally and statewide for a vote on four constitutional amendments, but at least one of those propositions could have a major impact on local and parish government in Iberville Parish.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday.

Statewide turnout may not exceed 10 percent for the election, which does not include any office elections on the ballot.

But one of those amendments proposes to redirect parish taxes to a single state agency and another that would decrease the maximum rate of individual income tax.

The in-person count for early voting in Iberville Parish totaled 268 in person and 485 by mail.

Here’s a look at the amendments that will go before voters on Saturday.

AMENDMENT 1

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:

  • Louisiana School Boards Association.
  • Louisiana Municipal Association.
  • Police Jury Association of Louisiana.
  • Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.
  • Department of Revenue or a designee of the secretary.
  • Governor.
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • 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 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.

AMENDMENT 2

Amendment 2 would amend the Louisiana Constitution to cut 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 2023 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.

This would maintain 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

Amendment 3 applies a property tax limit of 5 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 5 mills – $5 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

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 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 forecast.

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.