The gist: We’re not going to pretend that we do this better than the Public Affairs Research Council. But we can definitely do it faster. There are four constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot. Here’s a hasty guide for voting yes or no.
Amendment 1: Waives property taxes on offshore drilling equipment bound for the outer continental shelf
Vote Yes: Oil companies shouldn’t pay property taxes on equipment that’s headed outside of Louisiana territorial waters because the U.S. Constitution says they don’t have to. Recently, some parish governments have unconstitutionally forced them to pay up, and this law corrects it.
Vote No: The state already has a bunch of tax exemptions, many of which benefit the oil and gas industry. Local governments need the revenue. If it’s unconstitutional, that’s for the courts to decide, friend.
Amendment 2: Adds new recipients to a state fund that supports education
Vote Yes: The new recipients — two lab schools, a state-funded boarding school and a production house for educational programming — are exactly what the $15 million fund was intended to support. And it doesn’t really cost a whole lot more to throw them in there.
Vote No: Using the constitution to distribute money is crazy inefficient and troublesome. There’s got to be a better way to do this. It’s exactly why Louisiana is last in everything.
Amendment 3: Empowers the state tax appeals board to determine constitutionality in tax disputes
Vote Yes: Tax law is super complex, and involving experts can make disputes go much faster. Most other states do it this way, and it’s much more efficient. Besides, the courts can still weigh in if folks don’t like what the board decides.
Vote No: Questions of constitutionality are supposed to be determined by the courts, and there’s no reason to think they’re not doing a good job of it with tax law. Plus, the board members are political appointees. Not cool.
Amendment 4: Allows New Orleans to exempt property taxes to develop more affordable housing
Vote Yes: The state shouldn’t control local property taxes, and New Orleans has a housing affordability problem. It’s their crawfish; let NOLA decide how to boil them.
Vote No: Again, the state constitution is lousy with tax exemptions and New Orleans has no shortage of ways to make big, easy money for developers.