A Little Constitutional Housekeeping Is in Order
We recently outlined what’s at stake with each of the Constitutional amendments on the November 18th ballot. Of those, the Pelican Institute has a position on just one: we recommend a yes vote on Constitutional Amendment Two. Early voting starts Friday, November 3rd and ends on November 11th. Election day is October 14th. It’s a big football weekend around the state, so plan to vote early!
Amendment number two proposes to remove six inactive dedicated funds from the state’s constitution. They are:
- Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund
- Higher Education Louisiana Partnership Fund
- Millennium Leverage Fund
- Agricultural and Seafood Products Support Fund
- First Use Tax Trust Fund, Louisiana Investment Fund for Enhancement (LIFE)
Here’s some background and why we support removing these funds:
The state’s constitution should be a foundational document that outlines the responsibilities and powers of government and sets guardrails on those powers. The entire United States Constitution, including its amendments, contains 7,591 words. Conversely, the section of Louisiana’s Constitution that only addresses how the state should spend money is approximately 13,000 words. Placing all these regulatory requirements in the state’s foundational governing document makes it incredibly difficult to manage Louisiana’s budget and cash flows in an efficient and rational manner.
The constitution currently contains 36 dedicated funds. When it was created in 1974, it contained just two. None have been eliminated since they were created. Some of these funds have not had money in them for years, some have never had money in them. The LIFE fund is the only one that still has any money in it ($604) and hasn’t collected any additional money for nearly 20 years.
Representative Polly Thomas recognized that these six funds were defunct and passed Act 199 in the 2023 Legislative Session to remove them from the constitution, if voters approve this measure. This amendment will clean up a small portion of the cluttered state constitution without affecting the state’s finances. None of these funds have been used in years, if ever. In fact, if the legislature chooses to dedicate funds, the better place to have this is in state law (statutes), not in the constitution. Dedicated funds should always be reviewed for purpose, need, and funding on a regular basis, and if not used, then removed.
Cleaning up this small amount of constitutional clutter now can begin a process long needed to bring the document closer to its original form and function. As you head to the polls in the coming weeks, please remember to vote for Constitutional Amendment Number Two.
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