Raising Louisiana’s minimum wage would benefit families and the state’s economy
Louisiana workers and families are on the losing end when it comes to wages and earnings. The typical worker’s pay rose by just 1 percent since 1979, while productivity increased 35 percent during that time. In addition, U.S. Census data shows that Louisiana has the third-highest poverty rate in the nation, the fourth highest child poverty rate and the eight lowest median household income. To top that off, Louisiana is one of five states without a state-mandated minimum wage. As a result, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour prevails. Several groups are seeking to change this trend by educating the public and lawmakers on the benefits of raising the minimum wage — such as increased buying power for low-income families. In addition, the 19 states with higher minimum wage levels than the federal rate experienced better job growth than those without a higher minimum wage, partly because families and individuals earned more money to spend on food and products offered by the small businesses.
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson writes op-ed on Medicaid expansion
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson fired back against charges by Gov. Bobby Jindal that President Barack Obama is trying to “bully” the state into accepting Medicaid expansion. In her Nola.com op-ed, Peterson notes that several Republican governors — including Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey (who takes over today as chair of the Republican Governors Association), Jan Brewer of Arizona, Rick Snyder of Michigan and John Kasich of Ohio — accepted Medicaid expansion because it was the right thing to do for their state economies and residents. “Jindal claims that Medicaid expansion would cost Louisiana money, but he’s dead wrong,” Peterson wrote. “If he had supported Medicaid expansion, it would’ve saved the state about $100 million this fiscal year. Now when I hear reports that the state’s Medicaid program is in the hole for about $50 million, I shake my head.”
State will receive $238 million from lawsuit settlement with drug companies
More than 50 pharmaceutical companies that overcharged Louisiana taxpayers for prescription drugs have agreed to pay a combined $238 million as part of a legal settlement related announced Wednesday. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said the drug companies overcharged the Medicaid program for the cost of some prescriptions. For example, one company billed the state’s Medicaid program $80.20 for a prescription when it should have been $2.36. But not all the money from the settlement will go to the state’s coffers. Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said as much as 75 percent of the proceeds will be paid to the federal government, which pays the biggest share of Medicaid program costs.
New state gun laws could improve mental health reporting
Louisiana submitted only four mental health reports in the past 20 years to an FBI database that is used to perform background checks for gun buyers. This dismal reporting may change in January, thanks to two new state laws that will require clerks of court to report to the state Supreme Court when a citizen loses the right to possess firearms. That information will be forwarded to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system, which every federally authorized gun dealer uses to ensure buyers don’t have criminal or psychiatric records. While some court clerks are ready to implement the new system, others say they will wait for the state Supreme Court to issue a final ruling on whether a constitutional amendment passed in 2012 allowing felons to possess firearms will stand.
Upcoming LBP Events
LBP and PolicyLink are hosting a Twitter chat on “Protecting Your Paycheck: The Pitfalls of Payday Lending” 1 p.m. Dec. 12 using the hashtag #protecturpay.