Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014

New report details local impact of rejecting Medicaid expansion; Louisiana near the bottom in Advanced Placement scores; Lawsuit challenges state’s ban on recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages; and House of Representatives approves debt ceiling increase. Feb.-12

New report details local impact of rejecting Medicaid expansion
Almost 240,000 Louisianans will be left with no means to afford health insurance thanks to the state’s decision to turn down federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. According to, 56,400 in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, 45,700 in the Baton Rouge metro, 37,000 in the Lafayette area, and 54,000 in the Shreveport/Bossier City/Ruston metro region will remain uninsured. Gov. Bobby Jindal has said he opposes the expansion because it would be too costly and would increase government dependency. However, analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Department of Health and Hospitals suggest otherwise, and our research has found that most uninsured adults who would be covered by an expansion are working.

Louisiana near the bottom in Advanced Placement scores
One in five high school seniors around the country scored a 3 or above on Advanced Placement (AP) tests. The tests, which allow high school students to receive college credit for certain courses, are scored on a 5 point scale with score of 3 often considered “passing.” But in Louisiana, a paltry 5.3 percent of students hit that benchmark, the Associated Press reports. Only Mississippi had lower scores. But the state Department of Education decided to look on the bright side, and touted a welcome 25 percent increase in the number of students hitting the mark. There is widespread agreement that investing in education is the key to supporting a 21st century economy that creates good-paying jobs, yet state aid to K-12 students has fallen $212 per pupil since the Great Recession.

Lawsuit challenges state’s ban on recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages
The Forum for Equality Louisiana is suing on behalf of four couples to overturn the state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, according to the Advocate. One point of contention is the state’s requirement that taxpayers use the same filing status for their federal and state taxes. With the Supreme Court ruling last summer overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex married couples are now able to file their federal taxes jointly. But Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said that Louisiana would continue to not recognize same-sex marriages when it comes to state tax forms, setting up a situation where legally married couples will face different tax liabilities.

House of Representatives approves debt ceiling increase
In a surprise move, House Speaker John Boehner brought a “clean” debt ceiling bill to the floor of the House of Representatives with no strings attached, ending years of brinkmanship that have resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, damaging across-the-board budget cuts and a government shutdown. The measure passed with mostly Democratic votes, the Washington Post reports. Despite contrary claims from many Tea Party representatives, increasing the debt ceiling does not authorize new federal spending, but simply allows the government to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up. The debt ceiling has routinely been increased under both Republican and Democratic administrations.