Nov. 9: Mixed results on amendments

Nov. 9: Mixed results on amendments

Louisiana voters approved some changes to Louisiana’s constitution yesterday while rejecting others.

Louisiana voters approved some changes to Louisiana’s constitution yesterday while rejecting others. Voters defeated Amendment 2 which would have given university boards authority to set tuition without legislative approval. Louisianans will now have to ensure that the Legislature use its authority over tuition and school funding responsibly by reinvesting in schools and need-based financial aid. Voters also rejected Amendment 3, which would have eliminated the federal income tax deduction for corporations and set a 6.5 percent single corporate rate. The Advocate published an AP rundown of all the results:

There were six proposals to change the Louisiana Constitution.

— Voters approved Amendment 1, which will enact residency, education and experience qualifications for new registrars of voters.

— Voters rejected Amendment 2, which would have given Louisiana’s four public college system management boards the authority to change tuition and fee rates on college campuses without needing approval from state lawmakers.

— Voters rejected Amendment 3, which would have done away with a tax break that allows businesses to deduct the federal income taxes they pay from their state tax liability. Corporations in exchange would have been taxed at a flat rate of 6.5 percent, rather than varying rates from 4 percent to 8 percent, starting in 2017.

— Voters approved Amendment 4, which will exempt the surviving spouses of military personnel, police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty from having to pay local property taxes on their homes.

— Voters approved Amendment 5, which will create a new Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to be filled with oil and gas revenue and corporate taxes when those collections are higher than usual. Once the fund reaches $5 billion, up to 10 percent could be spent on construction projects and roadwork. Another portion of oil and gas money will pay down state retirement debt.

— Voters rejected Amendment 6, which would have made it easier for lawmakers to tap into protected funds when the state faces financial troubles.


Tax cuts for the rich

With Republicans taking control of The White House and Congress, federal tax changes are likely to be near the top of their agenda. Both Donald Trump’s campaign and House leaders have released plans to dramatically slash taxes, especially for the wealthy. Richard Rubin has the story in The Wall Street Journal:  

Both plans would also significantly increase budget deficits and give the largest tax cuts to high-income households. Mr. Trump’s plan, for example, would reduce federal revenue by $6.2 trillion over a decade, according to the Tax Policy Center, a project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute. The top 1% of households would get a 13.5% boost in after-tax income, compared with a 4.1% increase for the entire population.


What ACA repeal would look like

Republican leaders have also pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Margot Sanger-Katz reports for the New York Times’ Upshot blog that a bill passed by Congress last year and vetoed by President Obama may provide a preview of what’s to come. The bill included complete elimination of the Medicaid expansion which has extended health coverage to over 330,000 Louisianans.  

That bill, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015,” would eliminate Obamacare programs to provide Medicaid coverage for Americans near or below the poverty line. It would eliminate subsidies to help middle-income Americans buy their own insurance on new marketplaces. It would eliminate tax penalties for the uninsured, meant to urge everyone to obtain health insurance. And it would eliminate a number of taxes created by the law to help fund those programs.


States vote to raise minimum wage

Four states voted to raise the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour. NPR’s Camila Domonoske provides the update:

Maine, Arizona, Colorado and Washington all voted to increase the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour by 2020. Washington approved a raise to $13.50 an hour by 2020; Colorado calls for $12 by 2020, but with the wage pegged to the cost of living after that. In South Dakota, a ballot initiative called for lowering the minimum wage for non-tipped employees under 18, but it was roundly rejected by voters, with more than 70 percent opposing it.


Gov. Edwards pushes for more flood relief

Now that the presidential election is over, Congress will work to pass a budget during its upcoming lame-duck session. Gov. John Bel Edwards isn’t wasting any time to make sure the Bayou State receives more federal flood aid after a $438 million “down payment” passed earlier this year. Times-Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue has the story:

The governor increased his request from an initial $2.6 billion to $4 billion in October, after further assessment of the damage done by the March and August floods. Edwards made three trips to D.C. in September before Congress recessed for its October break. In his $4 billion request, Edwards wants $120 million to prevent “widespread closure” of small businesses and $600 million to deal with floodplain management and infrastructure enhancement to prevent future disasters. He is also asking for another $125 million to complete the Comite River Diversion project, which he thinks will help prevent flooding around the Comite and Amite rivers in the future.

In a statement, the governor also pledged to work with the incoming Trump administration on flood relief and infrastructure, The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports:

“Louisiana will be a strong partner with President-elect Trump and his new administration as we continue to recover from historic flooding, as we make critical investments in our infrastructure and as we work to give our kids every opportunity to succeed,” Edwards said Wednesday. “I look forward to working with him, and we will keep him and his family in our prayers as they begin this new journey.”


Number of the Day

331,763 – Number of Louisianans who would lose health insurance coverage if Medicaid expansion were repealed (Source: Louisiana Department of Health via The Advocate)