Poverty strains cognitive abilities, opens door for bad decision making
A common narrative in American culture is that people find themselves living in poverty due to either inherent laziness or a choice to not work hard. But a new study by several top-tier academic institutions, including Harvard University and Princeton University, finds the strain of poverty taxes the cognitive abilities of people who experience it — hindering their ability to fully perform a range of tasks. Harvard economist Sandhil Mullainathan, one of the study’s authors, used the following metaphor to describe the effects of poverty: “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.” Fortunately for the poor, the study shows cognitive abilities return when the burden of poverty disappears.
Teachers union renews battle over tenure law
Louisiana Federation of Teachers is planning to file another lawsuit against the state over a new teacher tenure law. The union’s actions come after a Monroe-based district court judge ruled on Aug. 16 the tenure provisions in Act 1 — part of last year’s controversial overhaul of public schools — violated teacher DeAnne Williams’ 14th Amendment property rights and her right to due process under the state Constitution. Specifically, the court ruled that the 2012 law unjustly gives local superintendents the right to fire a tenured teacher without a pre-termination hearing. LFT President Steve Monaghan says his group knows of several similar cases around the state and will use the Monroe ruling to bolster its case in Baton Rouge.
LSU, newspapers disagree over interpretation of state Supreme Court ruling
Attorneys representing The Advocate and The Times-Picayune in their lawsuit against LSU say the state Supreme Court’s decision to not overturn or stay a lower court’s ruling means the flagship institution must produce the names of semifinalists and finalists in its presidential search. But LSU’s attorney Jimmy Faircloth disagrees, saying the high court’s decision paved the way for LSU to have its case heard before the appellate courts. Faircloth, who specializes in losing high-profile cases for the Jindal administration, said LSU will not produce any records unless the appellate court orders it. Despite the ongoing legal battles, State District Judge Janice Clark is holding LSU in contempt of court, fining the institution $500 a day for every day it fails to produce the records — an outstanding bill that now totals more than $50,000.
Married same-sex couples living in Louisiana can file taxes jointly
The U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would treat same-sex couples as married for all federal tax purposes, including income, gift and estate taxes. As Nola.com summarizes, the ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an Individual Retirement Account and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit. Since Louisiana does not recognize same sex marriages, marriages performed in other states will not enable couples to file jointly for their state income tax returns.