What To Do About Those Four Amendments When You Vote Tomorrow

Since we’ve got zero confidence in the possibility that Mike Bayham raises today, of New Orleans putting LaToya Cantrell into a runoff which might offer the possibility of her being deposed as mayor of that city, we would argue that the most important vote in Louisiana in Satuday’s elections would be taking place in the southwestern part of the state. There, Jeremy Stine is running to keep Senate District 27 within the GOP fold, and it’s crucial that he wins.

We have every reason to believe he will. Stine’s Democrat opponent Dustin Granger is a John Bel Edwards stooge, and it would shock us to think a Democrat would get anywhere in that hurricane-ravaged district given the total inattention the Biden administration and the complete ineffectiveness of Edwards in hurricane recovery there. Besides, Senate District 27 is a reliably conservative place. It was represented, though poorly, by Republican Ronnie Johns before he sold out to Edwards for a job chairing the state gaming commission; Donald Trump carried it with more than 64 percent last year.

There’s polling on that race, and Stine is ahead of Granger significantly. There is another Republican in that race who might get two or three percent, which could keep Stine from winning outright tomorrow. In one poll Stine is ahead of Granger 46-29; in another, he’s up 48-35.

Granger is a white leftist who has tried to recast himself as a moderate. He’s a typical Democrat liar and the faster the voters dump him out, the better.

But since most of us don’t live in District 27 or Orleans Parish, the main event for the elections on Saturday are the four constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Our usual default on constitutional amendments is to vote no every time. We’ll come off of that for things which are legitimately good, and lately we’re a little more forgiving on constitutional amendments because if you want to make conservative policy in Louisiana given the fact we’re saddled with Edwards in the governor’s mansion, constitutional amendments are what’s available.

He can’t veto a constitutional amendment bill.

That isn’t a great way to run things, but it’s what we have. Meaning that we’ll cut these amendments a bit more slack than we otherwise might.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is pushing the first two of the four amendments. Neither one are truly earth-shaking items and it won’t be the end of the world if they don’t pass, but we do support them – and one reason is that there is some real value in LABI getting some wins and staying relevant. LABI has for decades been the only outfit statewide actually fighting to keep Louisiana’s economy somewhat competitive, and since Edwards has been in office that fight is a little like Belgium taking on the Nazis. Whatever victory you can pull out of this disaster is worth holding onto.

Amendment 1 would provide some semblance of unifying sales tax collections in Louisiana. The way it’s set up, we’ll admit, sucks; it would create a horse-designed-by-committee commission to handle sales tax collection, replacing all the local-yokel governments each having fingers in that pie, and it would, hopefully, provide the one-stop shopping that Louisiana merchants need in order to streamline their tax compliance and be competitive with their competitors in neighboring states.

We continue scratching our heads wondering why all these Republican legislators can’t just agree to do things the way Texas, Florida and Tennessee do, but for now the smart move is to take what small victories we can get.

So vote yes on Amendment 1, even if it isn’t the most exciting thing ever.

Amendment 2 is a bit more complicated. You’ve seen an op-ed here at The Hayride by Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist which gives a full rundown on what it does. We like the reduced top tax rate, but the most important thing that’s in this amendment, the thing which makes it very much worth voting for, is the provision which takes income tax rates out of the constitution and puts them in statute.

That’s a big deal, and here’s why – someday in, hopefully, the fairly near future, you will have a Republican governor and a Republican legislature made up of people who understand just a little bit of economics. And among them there might very well be a consensus that if Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, and neither do Florida or Tennessee, and Mississippi has just begun to phase out their state income tax, then if Louisiana keeps on with one we are going to be well and truly screwed.

And on that day, that Republican governor and Republican legislature might well agree to go ahead and do what our neighbors are doing and get rid of the state income tax.

If Amendment 2 passes you’ll be able to do that by simply passing a bill through the legislature with a majority vote and have the governor sign it which makes the income tax 0.0 percent. You don’t have to then send it to the voters and watch it be demagogued by the Louisiana Democrat Party and the Louisiana Budget Project and the rest of the Soros-funded nonprofit lobby cabal.

That’s well worth doing even if there are elements of federal tax deductibility in the amendment we have mixed feelings about.

So vote yes on Amendment 2, and feel pretty good about it.

As for Amendment 3, not no but hell no.

What does this do? It reads like this:

“Do you support an amendment to allow levee districts created after January 1, 2006, and before October 9, 2021, whose electors approve the amendment to levy an annual tax not to exceed five mills for the purpose of constructing and maintaining levees, levee drainage, flood protection, and hurricane flood protection?”

What this means is the levee districts created post-Katrina would get to impose property tax levies without bringing them before the public. If you vote for this what you’re doing is allowing unelected fatcats who get appointed to these boards because they’re pals with politicians to turn around and tax you to pay for whatever government swag results from their claiming the need to do “flood protection.”

You have to be such a colossal moron to think that’s a good idea that you really shouldn’t ever vote.

Absolutely do not pull the “yes” lever for this. If you don’t vote “no,” you are not welcome to read the Hayride anymore.

Finally, Amendment 4, which we’re also a “no” on.

On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a horrible idea. Essentially what it would do is allow the Legislature to sweep more funds out of those pots of state money into the general fund budget. And that isn’t the worst idea in the world, but it’s not good enough.

If you’ll remember, we had a giant debate about all this when Bobby Jindal was governor. Jindal made a common practice of grabbing money out of those dedicated funds and using it to patch deficits in the state general fund. They’d crucify him every year for the “one-time money” he was spending.

Of course, Jindal was doing all this because Louisiana had cut taxes and also because the post-Katrina federal funding surge was drying up, and he was trying to manage a budget shrinkage from $30 billion to $25 billion. And the real solution, which was to just slash the hell out of the budget, wasn’t seen as politically palatable.

State law allows for those funds sweeps at five percent. If there’s $20 million sitting in one of these dedicated-funds pots o’ gold, the Legislature can grab $1 million of that and toss it into the general fund. This amendment would bump that five percent to 10 percent. Functionally, that isn’t horrible.

But what it does it delay the budgetary reckoning that will ultimately come when the federal government is no longer dumping hyperinflationary swag on the state of Louisiana.

When the deficit comes, funds sweeps aren’t the answer. Hard, real budget cuts will be the answer. You should vote no on Amendment 4 so the legislators and the rest of the politicians no that you expect them to actually do their jobs and shrink the size and scope of government.

And yes, those dedicated pots o’ gold need to be shrunken down. That can be done without sweeping the money into the general fund; those pots should be shrunken by giving you more of your own money back.

For a detailed presentation of the four constitutional amendments, we recommend the Public Affairs Research Council’s guide, which you can find here.

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