Opinion: Vote No on CA1 Like the Future of New Orleans Depends on It

Heavy road works underway along Fleur De Lis Drive” by Victor Wong (sfe-co2) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On November 13, New Orleanians need to vote no on constitutional amendment number 1 like the future of our city depends on it. CA1 is a measure which will politicize the sales tax collection process and send our tax revenue to Baton Rouge before it returns to us to be spent.

Lawmakers have no reason to politicize the sales tax process. A few years ago, the legislature set up the “Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers” – a body which oversees sales tax collections from e-commerce retailers like Amazon, Wayfair, and even websites like Etsy. This Commission for Remote Sellers – designed by a decidedly less conservative legislature – is comprised entirely of tax collection professionals. Now, however, the legislature has decided it needs more influence on sales tax collection and wants to abolish the Commission for Remote Sellers and create one body comprised of a mix of tax collectors and political appointees to be in charge of collecting all sales taxes in the state – including the local taxes that local governments rely on to pay for basic city services.

The amendment truly has all of the awful elements we have all come to expect from the state. The bill is being pushed by big business lobbyists who have held us back for decades. Undoubtedly, these same lobbyists will be the appointees the legislature puts on the completely unaccountable commission this amendment creates. These lobbyists will be tasked with laying out the rules by which the bureaucrats in Baton Rouge can withhold our tax money.

We already know the state legislature has no problem withholding New Orleans’ money when it suits them. By politicizing the local tax collection process and making money flow through Baton Rouge first, the legislature may decide to sabotage our finances. Just look at what happened with the money at the Bond Commission where the Commission decided to fund every project except for the projects located within New Orleans. This was 100% retribution for daring to have strong public safety measures.

Additionally, it appears the legislative leadership is buying off the support of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association by increasing funding for local jails. A bill that was miraculously filed by the same legislator who authored this amendment after many local sheriffs expressed concerns about how this amendment might impact their budgets. Hey, this is Louisiana, back room deals and funding big prisons – that’s what we do right?

Simply put, for a city like New Orleans which has struggled financially for decades because Baton Rouge refused to let us keep our fair share of taxes,  we cannot afford to let Baton Rouge take more away from us. Sales tax is the primary way we pay for city services and accounts for over a third of our budget. In a time when many of us can barely get our trash picked up, it makes no sense to require local tax dollars to go through an unelected commission of political appointees before it can come back and be spent by local government. Show up. Say NO to CA1 like the future of New Orleans depends on it: because it does.

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