On Oct. 22, voters in East Baton Rouge Parish and many other parishes in Louisiana will vote on a proposal that, if approved, would double the homestead exemption in the individual parishes available to military veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent and to the veterans’ surviving spouses.
In 2010, Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution enabling parish governing authorities to put this proposition on their local ballots. The parishes of East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa and East Feliciana are among the parishes where the proposal is on the Oct. 22 ballot.
The proposal is aimed at giving some extra financial help to veterans who have suffered in the service of their country. Because the number of veterans who would qualify for this exemption is relatively small, the potential financial impact on any given parish seems negligible.
We have long supported the idea that veterans deserve a strong system of support and assistance. But last year, we opposed the constitutional amendment enabling this proposal to go forward because we think such exemptions simply add another layer of complexity to the property tax system. Such exemptions seem inconsequential by themselves, but they tend to create the rationale for proposing other special exemptions for other groups of people.
We think there are better ways to honor and support our veterans. As we noted in 2010, if a parish has disabled veterans, it has other, better means to help them without changing the property tax law.