Sample ballots line the hallway outside the Registrar of Voters in 2020. If the voting metrics are too confusing, voters will often ignore them.

By Danae Columbus, Opinion Columnist

With the unusual level of apathy that has pervaded this year’s electoral cycle, supporters of the four constitutional amendments on the ballot are understandably worried if the few citizens who plan to vote ignore them. “Voters teand ignore electoral measures they know nothing about, ”a consultant said yesterday. However, supporters and opponents of the various initiatives are moving towards election day, Saturday, November 13.

The language of the ballots can be confusing – and sometimes even misleading. Voters should read and study the amendments carefully.

“I encourage people to read all of the amendments and to consult sources of information such as the Public Affairs Research Council and the Louisiana Budget Project“said State Representative Aimee Adatto Freeman.

Constitutional Amendment 1 Streamline the way national and local sales taxes are collected by creating an electronic filing and remittance system. Part of a legislative package of tax bills enacted in 2017, the amendment enjoys broad support across much of Louisiana.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged voters in the New Orleans area to reject the measure because it will remove the collection of sales tax from the city’s hands. She fears that the state government will withhold the redistribution of funds collected on behalf of the parish of Orléans. Although New Orleans does not benefit from the level of sales tax that our friends at Jefferson Parish generate in malls and big box stores, the city’s budget is still heavily dependent on tax revenue of 4.75. %.

Constitutional Amendment 2 lower the maximum available personal income tax rate and allow lawmakers to provide by law a deduction for federal income taxes paid. It will also allow, rather than require, that federal income taxes paid be deducted when calculating state income taxes.

Good government organizations, like the Louisiana Budget Project, that serve under-represented communities are adamantly opposed to this amendment. LBP director Jan Moller said the amendment would lower taxes for wealthy people and businesses, which they already see as failing to pay their fair share. They say it will also be more difficult for the state to invest in services such as quality schools, daycares and health care.

Constitutional Amendment 3 will allow dike districts created since January 1, 2006 and before October 9, 2021, whose electors approve the amendment to collect an annual tax not exceeding 5 mills for the purposes of construction and maintenance of dikes, drainage of sea ​​walls, flood protection and hurricane flood protection. If passed, districts will not have to seek voter approval to raise taxes up to $ 4 million.

The annual tax cap for the Orleans Levee district is currently set at 2.5 miles on all taxable properties “located in the alluvial parts of the district subject to overflow”. The amendment clarifies that any dike district created since January 1, 2006, which does not have the power to rate up to 5 mills but seeks to have the 5 mill option could do so if voters across the State approve the amendment with citizens who are directly impacted by the tax. Concretely, support for this amendment will make it easier for the dike districts to implement the improvements they need to make.

Constitutional Amendment 4 increase the amount of deficit reductions eligible for statutory deductions and constitutionally protected funds from 5% to 10%. The current law allows the legislator to establish a procedure to determine whether the appropriations will exceed the official forecasts and an adequate method of adjusting the appropriations to eliminate a projected deficit. The proposed change will give the state government greater flexibility in forecasting and managing fluctuations in the state budget.

Simply put, a vote for this amendment will allow more dedicated funds to be used to close a state budget gap. A vote against the amendment will keep the cap at 5%.

See here for the Public Affairs Research Council’s guide to the changes.

“Understanding constitutional amendments is just as important as understanding a candidate’s platform. It is essential that citizens pay close attention to these changes and the effect they will ultimately have, ”said State Representative Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans.

Advance voting starts on Friday (October 29) and runs until November 6 (except Sunday October 31) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are five early voting locations now available, including the Lions Eye Room (first floor) of the LSU Health Sciences Center, 2020 Gravier St. Other locations include City Hall, City Hall, Courthouse ‘Algiers, the warehouse for voting machines in East New Orleans and the community of Lake Vista. Center.

Danae columbus
Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilor Jared Brossett, City Councilor Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lieutenant Governor Jay. Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilors Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be contacted at [email protected]

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