Here is a roundup of The Advocate’s positions on items on the Baton Rouge-area election ballot on Saturday:
East Baton Rouge Parish Library millage: Yes.
The system’s operations are almost completely funded by this tax, so a “no” vote would place the library’s excellent services and facilities in jeopardy. We urge voters to support the library tax renewal.
EBR Schools (Consolidated School District No. 1) Proposition 1: I CARE program: Yes.
EBR Schools (Consolidated School District No. 1) Proposition 2: Operations and Maintenance: Yes.
EBR Schools (Consolidated School District No. 1) Proposition 3: Salaries and Benefits: Yes.
The East Baton Rouge Parish public school system has three proposed property tax renewals on the Saturday ballot. These are tax renewals, not increases. The proposals would extend each tax another 10 years. Everyone has a stake in quality public schools in Baton Rouge. We recommend a “yes” vote on these tax renewals.
Downtown Development District millage: Yes.
Only voters in the downtown area vote for this millage paid by those residents and business owners. The renewal of a 10-mill tax for five years represents another vote of confidence in the economic and social resurgence of the area.
Constitutional Amendment 1. Budget Fund: No .
Amendment 1 proposes splitting today’s state rainy day fund into two funds: $500 million for a rainy day and up to $500 million for road projects We’re skeptical about more state dedications that limit flexibility in dealing with budget challenges. This amendment is no substitute for a commitment to raising money directly for serious transportation investments.
Constitutional Amendment 2. Infrastructure Bank: Yes.
A second road proposal is one that was rejected by voters last year. We criticized the creation of an “infrastructure bank” because the details of the proposal had not been fleshed out in law. The Legislature has corrected that flaw with details about how the bank would work, basically as a revolving loan fund for local governments to borrow for road projects.
Constitutional Amendment 3. Legislative Sessions: Yes
Amendment No. 3 broadens language in the constitution regarding fiscal sessions of the Legislature. Fiscal sessions are those dealing with budget and tax matters, but as the state’s list of tax breaks and business incentives have grown — including rebates of taxes via credits — the existing language has caused confusion about what bills can be filed in the short sessions. Does it fundamentally alter the dynamics of fiscal sessions? We don’t think so, so it seems safely a “yes” vote.
Constitutional Amendment 4. Property Taxes: No
In West Carroll Parish, officials levied property taxes on an out-of-state natural gas facility owned by the municipal power company of Memphis, Tennessee. Because the Louisiana Constitution prohibits taxation of “public lands” and “other public property used for public purposes,” Tennessee sued and won, saying that language applies to their public property as well as that of a Louisiana city or parish. The amendment intends to reverse the court’s decision. We believe this should be settled by the courts.