This year's state constitutional amendments detailed by PAR

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Photo credit Dave Cohen

Four constitutional amendments will be on Louisiana ballots on October 12th.

The first would create a property tax exemption for certain goods for oil and gas companies. Public Affairs Research Council Policy Director Steven Procopio says it would clear up a federal constitutional debate for local companies.

“This is about property taxes which are local taxes, so one way to look at it is this is giving a tax break to companies,” said Procopio. “Another way is, this is interstate commerce which is not normally taxed.”

Opponents say it’s another tax giveaway to big oil.

The second option deals with allowing Louisiana Public Broadcasting and three alternative schools access to Education Excellence fund money.

The third option would allow the Governor-appointed Board of Tax Appeals to rule on questions of constitutionality for tax questions. Procopio says proponents want the change to speed up the process.

“This would be more efficient and quicker and because the people on the board have more tax expertise, they think they would make better decisions,” said Procopio.

Opponents say it would give too much legal authority to a non-elected board of decision-makers.

The fourth amendment option may surprise people: it deals with allowing the City of New Orleans to give property tax exemptions for affordable housing. So why is it up for a statewide vote?

“In the constitution, it is set up that the exemptions to property taxes are listed in the constitution and that is it. You cannot put one in statute, if you want to add an exemption you need a constitutional amendment.”

Supporters say it would give the city another tool to fight exploding housing costs, opponents say it could lead to waste fraud and abuse.