Amendment 5’s wording on your ballot is purposefully confusing.
It states, “Do you support an amendment to authorize local governments to enter into cooperative endeavor ad valorem tax exemption agreements with new or expanding manufacturing establishments for payments in lieu of taxes?”
Not sure what that means? Then the amendment’s creators can give themselves a pat on the back.
What it means is that with the acceptance of this amendment industries like oil and gas will be exempt from paying property taxes indefinitely.
Specifically, this corporate welfare amendment was proposed to benefit Cameron LNG an export facility mostly owned by Japanese corporations.
Ten years ago Cameron LNG was given a decade-long tax exemption on their property worth $13 billion. That wasn’t a typo, they quite literally own the most valuable piece of property in Louisiana. However, in 2019, due to their exemption, they only paid $38,000 in property taxes on it instead of the $220 million that they should have paid.
They haven’t been paying 99.98% of taxes for 10 years.
But their 10 years are up.
So is the big corporation just going to accept having to now pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes now?
Of course not!
As of the last few years, Cameron LNG has funneled millions ofdollars into getting Amendment 5 added to the state constitution so they can continue to be exempt from property taxes.
Because for Cameron LNG to continue to be tax–exempt would be against current laws. They tried to enter into a deal with local officials that would allow them to pay $4 million instead of the $220 million they owed in taxes, but that deal was declared unconstitutional.
So they are trying to change the constitution.
However, the effects of this amendment will be much greater than just the people of Cameron continuing to have shoulder the burden of unusually high property taxes to make up for Cameron LNG’s exemption.
It will affect the whole state by allowing all big industries, oil, gas, and everyone else who haunts environmentalists’ nightmare to be exempt from paying property taxes.
Don’t think, “I own a business, maybe this will be good for me!” This option will only exist for less than 1% of businesses.
Edgar Cage of Together Louisiana explained, “Instead of the tax rate being set by an election, it’ll be based on how well a company can negotiate. And the rest of us will have to pay more to compensate for the deal cut by a single company.” “Negotiating” in this instance could mean anything from buyingoff a politician to buying enough votes in an election to be exempt from taxes indefinitely.
You read that right: indefinitely.
Once this amendment is voted into the constitution it will be extremely hard to undo, requiring a two-thirds vote from the house legislature.
To trick people into voting for the amendment, Republicans are making fraudulent arguments in support of it.
The bill’s author Senator Mark Abraham said that the bill doesn’t mean that industries won’t pay taxes, it “just means that the industry will have a reduction in taxes in exchange for some dollars upfront,” which he stressed was so important considering the problems local governments are facing due to COVID-19 and the recession.
Of course, Abraham trying to make it seem like current issues sparked his bill seems less genuine when you consider the timing of the bill, at the end of Cameron LNG’s tax exemption, and the fact that he represents Cameron parish and therefore indubitably has ties to the company.
Do not be fooled. This bill is not about helping you. It’s all about keeping Cameron LNG from having to pay taxes.
Retired Gen. Russel Honore condemns the acceptance of Amendment 5, explaining “Our current ITEP (industrial tax exemption) program is not fair to the poor people of Louisiana because politicians get to negotiate tax breaks to industry.”
If you’re thinking maybe it will bring jobs, think again. The amendment doesn’t even stipulate that the corporations have to create jobs. In fact, they can lay off huge swaths of their workforce without having their exemption removed.
Louisiana is so rich in natural resources, and yet the state consistently ranks low in so many quality-of-life indicators. It all ties back to us letting big industries take advantage of us. We give more than 9 times what the average state gives corporations through a completely unelected board and it needs to come to an end.
Vote to support Louisianans with billions of dollars that are rightfully ours. Vote against Amendment 5.
Editor’s note: For our complete guide and recommendations of all Amendments, please click here.
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