Voters statewide will consider four revenue-related constitutional amendments Saturday, while those in Baton Rouge will pick a pair of judges and weigh in on a tax benefiting the region’s bus system.
Polls open at 7 a.m. for the 2021 Louisiana open primary, and close at 8 p.m. Those in line at 8 p.m. will be able to cast a ballot.
Constitutional Amendment 1 would set the state on a course toward centralized collection of tax revenue, rather than a system that established one tax collector per parish. Other steps would still be necessary even if voters OK the amendment.
The state House and Senate, with two-thirds votes, would ultimately need to set up an eight-member commission, with four local members and four state officials, to collect sales taxes and ensure that each taxing district receives its appropriate share.
Amendment 2 would eliminate the federal income tax deduction from state income tax returns, but also lower income tax rates.
If approved, three companion laws would take effect to reduce corporate income tax and franchise tax rates for corporations and cap the personal income tax rate in the state constitution.
Under the current system, changes in federal tax law have an impact on Louisiana tax revenues.
Amendment 3 could eventually allow for five recently established levee boards to raise taxes.
Most levee boards have been able to raise taxes since the 1800s, but five created since 2006 — in Iberia, St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes and the Chenier Plain Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority in Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes — have not had the same privilege. If approved statewide, local voters in those parishes will still need to approve before the tax could be levied.
Amendment 4 would let state fiscal officers tap up to 10% of a dedicated fund, under certain economic conditions, to help balance the state budget. The state is currently restricted to tapping up to 5%.
In Baton Rouge and Baker, voters will take up a 10-year, 10.6-mill property tax renewal benefiting CATS, the regional bus system. The owner of a house with an assessed value of $100,000 would pay $106 annually.
A decade ago, the millage approval took the bus system from the verge of bankruptcy to an annual budget of more than $30 million. Roughly $18 million of that yearly sum comes from that tax, with the rest coming from fares and federal subsidies.
Two special elections were set for Baton Rouge judgeships.
Metro Councilwoman Erika Green faces fellow attorney Natalie Tellis Robertson for an unexpired term on East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court. Both are Democrats. The winner will replace Judge Lisa Woodruff-White, who will retire at the end of the year. Her term doesn’t expire until the end of 2026.
Also, lawyers Whitney Higginbotham Greene, Terrel "TK" Kent and Carson Marcantel seek to complete an unexpired term on the Baton Rouge City Court. A runoff will be held Dec. 11 if no candidate exceeds 50 percent of the vote.
The City Court Division A seat had been held by Judge Chris Hester, who was elected last year to the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal. The term expires at the end of 2024. Greene is listed as “no party,” Kent is a Democrat and Marcantel is a Republican.