It’s a big Election Day in Louisiana, including key races across the state. Our recommendations to voters follow.
Four amendments to the Louisiana Constitution represent rather technical issues in state government. While broadly speaking such matters should be left to regular statues instead of the constitution, we urge voters to pass them this time.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
St. George city incorporation — Against.
Proponents of St. George argue that incorporating a new city in the southeastern part of East Baton Rouge Parish would be a boost for the area, although it would mean growing government because new officials would have to be put in place to run the city. That change and related costs stand to put a greater burden on taxpayers.
Business leaders within the Baton Rouge Area Chamber looked at the numbers concerning the proposed new city and concluded that it doesn’t make economic sense. Many St. George boosters support it as a way to get better public schools, but the proposal on Saturday’s ballot says nothing about schools.
Approving a new layer of government, with taxpayers picking up the bill, would be a step back for Baton Rouge. We urge voters to say no.
Amendment 1: Offshore services property tax — For. The proposal settles a disagreement among several coastal parishes and the energy industry over taxation of materials destined for oil and gas development in offshore, federal waters. This amendment restores the traditional methods of property tax assessment of materials stored onshore for eventual shipment to the Gulf of Mexico oil fields.
Amendment 2: Special grants to schools and LPB — For. Public school systems, because of a trust established from a legal settlement with tobacco companies, receive small annual grants from the Education Excellence Fund. Several individual schools also receive the grants and the amendment adds to that list some schools in Baton Rouge as well as Louisiana Public Broadcasting, which provides services to education.
Amendment 3: Board of Tax Appeals — For. The amendment seeks to broaden the authority of a body of experts, the Board of Tax Appeals, to decide constitutional issues raised when a specific tax is being challenged by businesses. It’s intended to be a quicker way to resolve such disputes instead of using the courts as a first resort, which can be more costly and time-consuming.
Amendment 4: New Orleans exemptions for affordable housing — For. Louisiana’s constitution limits property tax exemptions to those specifically enumerated in the document. This amendment seeks to add a new one for the city of New Orleans, allowing an additional layer of taxpayer subsidies for affordable housing. The latter is a real crisis in the city and this amendment may help. It affects only New Orleans.