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On the Ballot: Constitutional Amendments, Part 2

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S. Lincoln
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“We have six constitutional amendments that voters statewide will be making their choice on.”

With the help of Public Affairs Research Council president Robert Travis Scott, we found out about the first three amendments Friday. Today we’re getting the rundown on the remainder, beginning with Amendment Four -- a property tax exemption.

“Number Four would give a full exemption for your assessment on your home for people who have died in the line of duty,” Scott explains. “And it’s not just military people. This expands it for police and firefighters.”

Currently, survivors of military killed in the line of duty are eligible for a property tax exemption of $150,000 – double the amount of the standard Homestead Exemption.

Amendment Five would establish the “Revenue Stabilization Fund”.

“It sets up a fund that says when oil and gas or corporate revenues surge, we’re going to take off the top of that surge and put it into this special fund. Otherwise what would happen is the Legislature would very likely just spend that money and put it into the operating budget,” Scott says.

“But isn’t that the theory behind the Rainy Day Fund to begin with?” I asked. “Why do we need another one?”

“Exactly right, Sue, but what this one does is it builds upon that,” Scott replies. “And it actually creates more thresholds and it tames the surge more.”

Amendment Six is controversial, Scott says.

“It makes it a little easier for the state to go in and tap some of these protected dedicated funds and put that money into the operational budget, while adding further protections to five of the dedicated funding streams, including the Coastal Fund.”

What makes it controversial is the trigger for tapping into the dedicated moneys. All it takes is a drop in the revenue forecast.

“You could have increased revenue next year, but your forecast went down a little bit and therefore you’d still be able to tap these funds for the operating budget,” Scott states.

Your opportunity to weigh in on these amendments starts tomorrow, when early voting begins.