By Alexis Newman
With the Nov. 13 election approaching, it’s important for citizens to be informed on the proposed amendments to the Louisiana Constitution, so Louisiana State Rep. Chris Turner has given his explanations and opinions on the amendments.
Turner will also host Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder to discuss the amendments at 1:30 p.m. today at the Historic Fire Station in Ruston.
There will be four amendments for voters to decide on. The first two amendments propose tax reforms. The third amendment deals with levees, and the fourth has to do with the reallocation of dedicated funds.
Amendment One proposes that the state of Louisiana streamline sales tax revenue collection. As of now, the state collects a state sales tax, and each parish collects their own sales taxes which vary in rate. A yes vote would approve of a centralized committee with authority over tax application policies that would collect and electronically file both state and local sales taxes.
“Louisiana is currently only one of three states in the country that doesn’t have centralized sales tax collection,” Turner said. “One centralized sales tax commission ensures accuracy, transparency and accountability to both those paying local sales tax and local governments who receive the funds.”
In the simplest terms, the second proposed amendment asks if the voter would support a decrease in individual and corporate income tax and franchise tax. This would also eliminate the ability of Louisiana citizens who file for income tax to file for a deduction for federal taxes. Three corresponding statutes would be put into place detailing this reform: Act 395 for individual income tax, Act 396 for corporate income tax, and Act 389 for franchise tax.
“The passage of this amendment is the first and very important step towards simplifying Louisiana’s complex tax code and make our state more competitive with our neighboring states,” Turner said. “Lowering income tax rates will be exchanged with the removal the federal income tax deduction to provide stability for entrepreneurs, as well as the phase out of the franchise tax.”
Proposed Amendment No. 3, if approved, would allow the boards of levee districts created after 2006 to increase property tax millage up to 5 mills in order to fund levee construction and maintenance. This could be done without voter approval. Although this amendment would not affect the district that Lincoln Parish is in, it would affect fellow Louisiana citizens who rely on levees.
The fourth amendment proposes increased flexibility in the state’s ability to reallocate dedicated funds in the case of a budget deficit. The current percentage of funds allowed to be tapped is 5%, and an affirmative vote would approve of increasing the percentage to 10.
“I support the passage of all four constitutional amendments,” Turner said. “I believe that they allow for our state to progress towards a simplified tax code and create a more competitive business environment spurring on economic growth in North Louisiana as well as statewide.”
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