Amendment 4: Tapping more dedicated money to fix a deficit

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – It is just days away from Louisiana’s election and four constitutional amendments can make some major changes to how tax dollars are handled. Amendment 4 would look to change how the state can tackle a budget shortfall.

The Louisiana State Legislature is no stranger to budget shortfalls. Lawmakers often have to make tough calls with budget cuts to balance the budget. Amendment 4 would allow the legislature to transfer more dedicated funds to fill those gaps. It would increase the cap from 5% to 10%.

“Do you support an amendment to increase the amount of allowable deficit reductions to statutory dedications and constitutionally protected funds from five percent to ten percent?”

“Either government cuts, healthcare, higher ed, or public safety. The things that are unprotected in our budget or they raise taxes,” said Stephen Waguespack, President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. “Neither one of those are a good choice and so what amendment four does is it gives the legislature a little bit more flexibility in a deficit environment to use some dedicated funds to not have to make draconian cuts.”

These kinds of moves happen outside of a regular session and are decided by the governor, but still need the approval of the joint budget committee. Those in favor believe raising that cap can help keep the legislature from having to make major cuts from the unprotected funds.

“There are some constitutionally statutorily protected funds that deserve and probably should be preserved and protected,” said Director of Public Affairs at the LA Budget Project Davante Lewis.

There is an argument that these dedicated funds tie the hands of legislators when trying to balance the budget.

“Should we even the playing field or should we really just start to undo statutory dedications?” Lewis questions.

But that is an argument to bring up through further legislation. This vote would simply decide to allow elected officials to take an increased amount to fix any future budget shortfalls.

Read the Public Affairs Research Council’s full nonpartisan guide on the amendments here.

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