By: Stephen Waguespack
If his prediction holds true for Saturday’s turnout, it would mean that 85% of the roughly 3 million registered voters in Louisiana will simply not vote at all. Another way of looking at it is that over 2.5 million may just decide to skip the election altogether.
This is embarrassing. We can do better, especially since there are some critical votes on the ballot.
Louisiana will potentially elect a new state treasurer, though a runoff next month is predicted by most experts. Additionally, a couple of new legislators and a public service commissioner will be selected to fill open seats. There are also several local government posts on the ballot around the state. In my hometown of Baton Rouge, for example, I will proudly be voting for Mike Gaudet, a guy I greatly respect to fill an important seat on my local school board. You probably have a relevant local office up for grabs near you as well.
There should be plenty of motivation to encourage folks to head to the polls, but thus far during the early voting period, not much has encouraged them. Saturday is the last chance to find that inspiration to do your civic duty.
One motivating item on the ballot that you may not have heard about yet is the importance of voting YES on Constitutional Amendment #1. This provision should absolutely be supported by anyone who is concerned about a new wave of property taxes coming their way.
Constitutional Amendment #1 would prohibit the assessment of property taxes on any project while it is under construction. Prohibiting the property tax assessment on “Construction Work In Progress” or CWIP as it is commonly referred to, is a no-brainer and has been the practice for generations in Louisiana. However, new threats to levy these taxes have arisen, and protection in the Constitution is now required.
Imagine if every new home, business or other property was to be taxed during construction and taxed after its completion. The construction cost increases and financial barrier to entry could render much of this development unfeasible, stifling business investment and homeownership at a time when our economy quite frankly needs every dollar of investment it can get. For example, municipalities wanting to reinvigorate their downtown districts would find such development projects difficult, if not impossible.
Passage of this amendment will not take revenue away from local governments or tax collectors because it is not assessed now. The amendment simply closes a perceived loophole identified by some tax collectors before they can find a new way to exploit it.
The amendment is supported by a broad and diverse group of stakeholders. The statewide police jury association, home builders, the municipal association, business groups, the sheriff’s association, contractors and economic development leaders have all joined the Governor and a bipartisan list of legislators supporting its passage. Several Louisiana editorial boards have done the same.
Property should go on the property tax rolls once it is complete and ready for use. That is the tradition of this state, a tradition that has been viewed as fair to families, businesses and governments alike. This fair practice is now threatened, and passage of Constitutional Amendment #1 is vital to hold off this new tax.
Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
Voting is a special privilege we have as Americans. It is not only a right we have to make our voice heard, but it is also a duty we must perform out of respect for the freedom we enjoy today.
Vote this weekend because it is the right thing to do. If that doesn’t do it for you, go vote this Saturday with the goal of supporting Constitutional Amendment #1 to stop new anti-competitive property taxes that will impede economic growth. While you are in that voting booth, you just might also help elect a new treasurer and maybe a new local official or two. Not bad work for just a few minutes of your time.