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On the Ballot: Constitutional Amendments, Part 1

S. Lincoln

“We have six constitutional amendments that voters statewide will be making their choice on,” and Public Affairs Research Council president Robert Travis Scott says it’s important to know what those amendments do before you enter the voting booth.

“If you look at what’s on the ballot and that’s the first time you’ve seen it, you will be confused,” he warns.

To help you avoid confusion, here is a primer on what the amendments do.

Amendment One would set hiring standards for registrars of voters.

“You have to have certain educational or professional standards if you’re going to be a registrar,” Scott explains. “It also sets up a more transparent system for hiring.”

Constitutional Amendment Two would give public colleges and universities full authority to set their own tuition and fees.

“Right now, the way the system works is the Legislature with a 2/3 vote can set tuition and fees.”

Because the state also pays for TOPS, lawmakers have been reluctant to give up their authority to control tuition.

“In the past, the pledge has been for the Legislature to fully fund TOPS,” Scott says. “Now we’ve had legislation that kind of de-links that full funding. That has made this more digestible for the Legislature to accept.”

Then there’s Amendment Three.

“What this amendment would do is say companies can no longer deduct federal income tax from their state income tax. And in exchange, it would trigger legislation that would set a flat rate for corporate tax at 6-point-5 percent.”

Current state corporate income tax rates go as high as 8-percent, and many believe that has a chilling effect on economic development.

“Amendment number 3, I think, does fit what a lot of people think is an overall tax reform that needs to be made,” Scott states. “You’re not letting Washington tax policy affect whether state revenues go up or down.”

Monday we’ll look at Amendments 4, 5, and 6.