I want to thank this newspaper for shining a bright light on the injustice that would have been created had Constitutional Amendment 5 been passed on Nov. 3. Amendment 5 would have allowed oil and gas corporations to negotiate whether they pay property taxes. It would have defunded public education, deprived state money from roads, bridges, health care, and hurricane recovery as well as shifting the tax burden to working families and small businesses. Fortunately, it was defeated by 62.7% of the voters.
The results of the vote on Amendment 5 demonstrate that, when it comes to corporate welfare, elected officials in Louisiana are on a different planet from the voters they represent.
Back in May Louisiana's Legislature had approved Amendment 5 by huge margins — 82-16 in the House; 32-4 in the Senate.
At the ballot box, Amendment 5 didn't just lose. It got walloped. It lost in every single state House and Senate district in the State.
Consider the tally: Legislators voted 114 to 20 to place Amendment 5 on the ballot. Their districts voted 144 to 0 against it.
Amendment 5 was endorsed by the Louisiana School Board Association, Police Jury Association & Sheriffs Association, in each case without opposition.
It then lost in 99% of school board districts, 99% of police juror districts and all 64 parishes where those sheriffs are elected.
So, what's going on with this big disconnect between what voters want and how the people they elect are voting when it comes to corporate welfare? Let's not complicate it.
Lobbyists raise money for elected officials and cultivate relationships with them — with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. With everybody. The vast majority of those elected officials have been voting with the lobbyists, against their constituents, to win corporate welfare for the lobbyists' clients.
That may sound like a tale as old as time. But what the result of the referendum on Amendment 5 shows is that the constituency against this culture of corporate welfare is substantial.
The constituency against Louisiana's culture of corporate welfare is so big and so across-the-board that officials who keep voting for corporate welfare, against their constituents' wishes, are likely to start paying an electoral price for doing so, because what they are trying to do is not just and it’s not fair to the people of Louisiana and the people know it.
member, Together Louisiana