Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013

Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013

One in six Louisiana households struggle against hunger; Louisiana National Guard refuses to process same-sex couples’ benefits; Civil Service panel OKs LSU hospital privatizations, layoffs of 3,300; and IRS same-sex ruling creates catch-22 in Louisiana 3,262 – The number of state employees who will be laid off due to LSU hospital privatizations in Shreveport and Monroe (Source: Associated Press)

One in six Louisiana households struggle against hunger
The prevalence of food insecurity in Louisiana has grown significantly since the Great Recession, indicating that more individuals and families – especially those with children younger than 18 – are lacking enough money to purchase food at some point in the year. According to a release on food security from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly one in six households in Louisiana struggle against hunger. Louisiana’s level of food insecurity is greater than the national level, and that level has grown more quickly in Louisiana than at the national level since the start of the Great Recession. The new data on food insecurity comes as Congress debates new cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as “food stamps”), which LBP explains would exasperate Louisiana’s food insecurity problem. SNAP provided essential support to one in five Louisianans last year and proved successful at keeping families, children and seniors living near the poverty line from going hungry.

In case you missed it…
Wages for the typical Louisiana worker are virtually the same today as they were in 1979, on an inflation adjusted basis, and the percentage of working-age adults who are participating in the workforce is at a 30-year low. Those are two of the key findings in a report LBP released one week ago, “State of Working Louisiana 2013.” The report also finds a steady loss of jobs in manufacturing and government is one reason Louisiana’s unemployment rate is creeping steadily upward after years of being well below the national average. Read the full report by clicking here and read a news release that summarizes the major findings here.

Louisiana National Guard refuses to process same-sex couples’ benefits
The Louisiana National Guard will not process benefits for same-sex couples because the state’s Constitution defines marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” As Nola.com reports, the National Guard’s decision directly contradicts a Pentagon policy issued Tuesday requiring the military to honor such benefits requests. Pentagon officials decided to make spousal benefits available to all service members who have a valid marriage license after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutionally denied equal access to benefits for same-sex couples. Louisiana National Guard officials say same-sex couples seeking benefits could apply at one of the federal military instillations located in Louisiana.

Civil Service panel OKs LSU hospital privatizations, layoffs of 3,300
The state Civil Service Commission approved the privatization of LSU hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe, which will remove nearly 3,300 people from state employment rolls. As the Associated Press reports, the commission vote was the final step needed for the Oct. 1 start date of the outsourcing contract and allows the university system to lay off 3,262 hospital workers at LSUMedicalCenter in Shreveport and the E.A.ConwayMedicalCenter in Monroe. Those employees can reapply for their jobs with the hospitals’ new manager, the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana (BRF), but doing so will lessen their benefits and retirement packages. Despite having never run a patient care facility, BRF received the no-bid contract. Under the terms of the contract, an arm of the research foundation — which is led by one of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s appointees to the LSU Board of Supervisors — will pay the state $39 million annually to lease the hospitals.

IRS same-sex ruling creates catch-22 in Louisiana
The Internal Revenue Service will allow same-sex married couples to use the “married filing jointly” status on their federal tax returns, even in states that do not recognize gay marriage. The Advocate explains this decision creates a catch-22 in Louisiana. “On the one hand, Louisiana law requires taxpayers to use the same status on state tax returns as they do on federal tax returns. The state Civil Code also forbids same-sex marriages and doesn’t recognize such unions in Louisiana if legally entered in another state.” Thus, the state must either change the way it permits residents to file state returns so that they are not tied to the federal returns or there must be recognition of same-sex married couples.

3,262 – The number of state employees who will be laid off due to LSU hospital privatizations in Shreveport and Monroe (Source: Associated Press)