Louisiana voters will face 14 proposed amendments to the state constitution on the Nov. 4 ballot. Today, The Advocate continues its editorial series on these proposals. Here are The Advocate’s editorial positions on proposed Amendments 4, 5, 6 and 7.
The Advocate will publish its positions on the other proposed amendments in the near future. We’ll also recap them in a single format that voters can use when they cast a ballot.
Amendment 4: Fund transfers for an infrastructure bank. No.
The amendment is a case of putting the cart before the horse. The amendment empowers the state Treasury to invest in a bank that would presumably function as a revolving loan fund that local governments could use for road improvements. But the bank has not yet been created by law. We believe voters are better served by seeing the whole package on this proposal.
Amendment 5: Elimination of mandatory retirement age for judges. Yes.
This amendment, if approved, would eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 70 that’s now in place for Louisiana judges. We believe that many judges can continue to be productive past 70, and we support this change.
Amendment 6: Higher millage cap for police and fire protection in New Orleans. Yes.
The constitution now allows New Orleans to levy a special, additional five mills on property values to fund police protection, and another additional five mills to fund fire protection. This amendment would change each of those millage caps from five mills to 10 mills. New Orleans voters would still have to approve any additional taxes that could be proposed under this new arrangement, and we’ll wait to weigh in on those proposals when or if they emerge. Voters across Louisiana should be able to choose how much — or how little — to tax themselves for local needs without interference by the state.
Amendment 7: Property tax exemption for disabled veterans. No.
The amendment would strengthen an additional break on property taxes that parish governments, with voter approval, are already authorized to grant disabled veterans. We are deeply grateful for the sacrifices of veterans and believe that government should support their interests. But property tax breaks are a clunky way to address veterans’ needs, and such provisions add needless complexity to the tax code. Veterans are better assisted by specific assistance programs, not tinkering with the property tax code.