Along with elected offices on the ballot for the Oct. 24 election, voters will asked to cast their vote on four constitutional amendments.
They are as follows:
Amendment 1 – Creates a new transportation projects fund and restructures the rainy day fund.
“Do you support an amendment to rename the Budget Stabilization Fund to the Budget and Transportation Stabilization Trust; to authorize the mineral revenue base to be increased every five years; to create the Budget Stabilization Subfund as a subfund in the Trust, to be funded with mineral revenues until reaching a maximum balance of five hundred million dollars, to be appropriated and used when the state has a deficit; to create the Transportation Stabilization Subfund as a subfund in the Trust, to be funded with mineral revenues until reaching a maximum balance of five hundred million dollars, to be appropriated and used for planning, design, construction, and maintenance connected with the state highway program, with twenty percent dedicated for use by the Louisiana Intermodal Connector Program; and to provide for the interruption of deposits into the Budget Stabilization Subfund and the Transportation Trust Subfund the year that the state has a deficit and the following year with the resumption of deposit of mineral revenues in the Budget and Transportation Stabilization Trust thereafter?”
State rep. Gene Reynolds, district 10, says this amendment is a must in order to bolster the amount of money they need to begin addressing the state’s traffic infrastructure system of roads and bridges.
“What that does is it is a setup to use only for transportation projects, roads and bridges,” he said. “We said, with parameters, when the rainy day fund gets to a certain percent, it goes into transportation.”
The Public Affairs Research Council indicates a vote in favor would “steer mineral revenue to a new transportation projects fund and restructure the Budget Stabilization Fund.”
“The main purpose of this proposed amendment is to create a constitutionally protected fund for state transportation projects,” reports the PAR guide. “The amendment does not raise taxes. It does not change the state’s existing Transportation Trust Fund, which will continue to be the primary source of state infrastructure spending.”
A vote against would leave the current revenue flow and Budget Stabilization Fund intact.
Amendment 2 – Allows the state treasurer the option of investing in the state infrastructure bank.
“Do you support an amendment to authorize the investment of funds for a state infrastructure bank to be used solely for transportation projects?”
Reynolds says this one allows for the treasurer of the state to transfer funds into that infrastructure bank.
“We would borrow money for construction projects from that infrastructure bank and pay it back with interest just like a regular bank,” he said. “Twenty-three other states have already done this and it’s worked very well.”
According to the PAR guide, the amendment would provide another option for financing the infrastructure bank.
“It would allow the state treasurer to invest with the bank,” PAR reports. “The state always has money that needs to be invested, such as cash in dedicated funds or tax revenue that is not immediately spent. Voters last year rejected a similar proposed amendment; however, the legislature at the time had not created an infrastructure bank.”
One was created during the 2015 legislative session. A vote for would allow the treasurer to invest public funds in a state infrastructure bank. A vote against would require the newly created infrastructure bank to rely on other financing.
Reynolds says this one is also a must pass because it also would insure funds for roads and bridges. He says 47 percent of Louisiana’s bridges are in disrepair and in dire need to be fixed.
Amendment 3 – Provides new guidelines for legislation in a fiscal session.
“Do you support an amendment to allow any legislation regarding the dedication of revenue, rebates and taxes to be considered during a fiscal legislative session?”
Reynolds says this amendment would give legislators a little leeway during the legislative session.
“It’s an administrative thing for us to have more leeway during fiscal years so that we can address some of the budget structure, the budget,” he said. “It would give us more flexibility down at the state.”
“A vote for would broadly define what kind of tax and revenue bills can be filed in a legislative fiscal session,” PAR reports. “Although appropriations and budgeting take place in these sessions every year, the Constitution calls for a general session in even-numbered years and a fiscal session in odd-numbered years. This amendment would allow lawmakers in a fiscal session to ‘legislate with regard to the dedication of revenue’ and to ‘legislate with regard to taxes.’”
The impact of the proposed change would be to make clearer the intended broad grant of authority to the Legislature as to taxation by removing various specific terms and replacing them with sweeping language.
A vote against would leave in place the specific list of allowable tax legislation for fiscal sessions.
Amendment 4 – Allows local governments to tax property within their jurisdictions that is owned by local or state governments outside of Louisiana.
“Do you support an amendment to specify that the ad valorem property tax exemption for public lands and other public property shall not apply to land or property owned by another state or a political subdivision of another state?”
A vote for, according to PAR, would “require states or local governments outside of Louisiana to pay taxes on properties they own in Louisiana. A vote against would leave the question to the courts, which recently ruled that state or local governments outside Louisiana are exempt from property tax.”
Reynolds says if a governmental property owner in another state owns property in Louisiana, right now, that property owner is tax exempt.
“If No. 4 passes, if another state or local government has property in Louisiana, they would have to pay property taxes,” he said.
A vote against would leave the question to the courts, which recently ruled that state or local governments outside Louisiana are exempt from property tax.