In The Spotlight

State fiscal situation is an embarrassment

The governor's fiscal year 2019 budget should be taken as a very serious warning of what can happen to vital state investments in health care, education and social services if the political deadlock in Baton Rouge is not broken.

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Medicaid Work Requirements Don’t Work

While the idea of a work requirement may sound good to some, the reality is that it would take away health coverage, create more red tape and make it harder for many people who want to work to find employment.

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Louisiana families continue to struggle

The poverty rate in Louisiana for adults and children remained unacceptably high in 2016 even as other states saw significant improvements. New U.S. Census data released Thursday also show that Louisiana continues to have one of the highest rates of income inequality in the United States.

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The Daily Dime

Louisiana is one of only two states - Oregon is the other - that do not require a unanimous jury verdict for felony convictions. It’s one of the reasons the Pelican State leads the nation, and the world, in incarceration.

Number of the Day

32,814  - Projected number of prisoners in Louisiana in 2027 if all criminal justice reforms are left in place, a 10 percent decrease in the projected prison population absent reform.   (Source: The Pew Trusts)

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Our Two Cents Blog

Click here for a PDF version of this brief.

Louisiana has one of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation, with nearly 1 in 4 Louisiana children living in a household that doesn’t have enough food to eat throughout the month. That’s 261,000 children in our state whose parents are, at times, struggling to figure out how to pay for their families’ next meal. Child hunger has an impact on educational outcomes. An abundance of research shows that hungry children do more poorly in school and have more behavioral problems in the classroom, because they cannot concentrate as well as children who have enough to eat.

School is the one place where children should be guaranteed full, nutritious meals regardless of how much their parents earn. Unfortunately that is not the case in Louisiana schools. Current state law allows schools to deny students a meal if they do not qualify for free meals but come to school without money on a given day, or if they have accrued unpaid meal debt. Current law requires that public elementary school students be given a sandwich or snack in place of the denied meal, but students in higher grades may receive no food at all. In 2017, data from the Louisiana Department of Education reveal that students were denied meals 439 times at 23 different schools across the state.

Legislation authored by Rep. Patricia Smith and Sen. Blade Morrish (House Bill 284 and Senate Bill 245) aims to reduce child hunger and ensure proper nutrition for students by eliminating the practice of denying school meals or stigmatizing students who don’t have money to pay. The Advocate documented one large scale case of “school meal shaming” in St. Tammany Parish in December 2017, when an elementary school advertised a celebration that could only be attended by students whose parents had paid off any outstanding meal debt. Other practices that single out students who have meal debt or cannot pay for a meal include throwing a student’s meal away if they cannot pay, stamping a child’s hand, or making the child do chores in exchange for food.

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