Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Study says BR, NOLA are bad places to grow up poor; Long waits for community-based services; Inventory tax credit change survives, but barely; and Universities one step closer to gaining tuition authority


Study says BR, NOLA are bad places to grow up poor

Children born to poor families in Baton Rouge and New Orleans stand to earn significantly less money as adults than poor children born in other parts of the state and country. That’s according to a comprehensive new study released Monday that suggests moving poor families out of pockets of concentrated poverty can have profound effects on children later in life. The New York Times reports:


The places where poor children face the worst odds include some — but not all — of the nation’s largest urban areas, like Atlanta; Chicago; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Orlando, West Palm Beach and Tampa in Florida; Austin, Tex.; the Bronx; and the parts of Manhattan with low-income neighborhoods. All else equal, low-income boys who grow up in such areas earn about 35 percent less on average than otherwise similar low-income children who grow up in the best areas for mobility. For girls, the gap is closer to 25 percent. Many of these places have large African-American populations, and the findings suggest that race plays an enormous but complex role in upward mobility. The nation’s legacy of racial inequality appears to affect all low-income children who live in heavily black areas: Both black and white children seem to have longer odds of reaching the middle class, and both seem to benefit from moving to better neighborhoods.


Click here for an interactive map that shows how each county (and parish) compares to the national average. It shows that a child in Baton Rouge growing up in the poorest 25 percent of households will earn $3,620 less per year on average by age 26 than a poor child growing up elsewhere, a gap of 14 percent.


Long waits for community-based services

More than 54,000 Louisianans are languishing on a waiting list for home- and community-based services provided through Medicaid and some will have to wait more than 10 years, according to a new audit released Monday. As Marsha Shuler of The Advocate reports:


The auditor wrote that most applicants may never receive the home and community-based services they request. From July 1, 2011 to Oct. 1, 2014, some 74 percent of applicants “were removed from the registry for reasons other than accepting a waiver slot,” including 20 percent because they had died. The audit report comes as the Jindal administration is moving toward privatization of the management of long-term care services in Louisiana.


According to the Auditor’s report, seniors and people with developmental disabilities wait years longer than individuals in other states to receive home-based services through Medicaid.


Average wait times for waiver services in Louisiana are higher than national averages. Between July 1, 2011, and October 1, 2014, the average wait times for waiver services ranged from 2.4 years to 10.4 years. Overall, wait times for waivers serving the elderly and individuals with physical disabilities averaged 3.4 years, and wait times for waivers serving individuals with developmental disabilities averaged 7.6 years. Both averages are higher than national averages. The national average for waivers serving the elderly and individuals with physical disabilities is 10-13 months, and the national average wait time for waivers serving individuals with developmental disabilities is 3.9 years.


Inventory tax credit change survives, but barely
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to scale back the state’s inventory tax credit was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday – but only after it initially failed, then was watered down in an effort to get enough votes to pass to the full House. Paring back the inventory tax credit is the centerpiece of the governor’s plan to patch Louisiana’s gaping budget hole without running afoul of a Washington, D.C. anti-tax group to whom he’s pledged loyalty. As Julie O’Donoghue of Nola.com reports:


Currently, Louisiana businesses have to pay a tax on all of their inventory to local governments and school boards. The state government then reimburses them fully for this expense using the refundable tax credit — a benefit that costs around $452 million last year. The governor had originally pushed getting rid of the state’s refundable inventory tax credit entirely, but the Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee drastically changed Jindal’s refundable tax credit legislation (HB 805) before approving the measure this week. Now, the bill only eliminates 25 percent of the refundable tax credit, meaning businesses are hanging on to three-quarters of the current benefit. The amended legislation is expected to produce around $100 million annually, while Jindal’s original proposal was supposed to generate $484 million in its second year alone.


Even with the change, the bill will likely face opposition from businesses who call the move a tax hike.


Universities one step closer to gaining tuition authority
After approval by the Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, the full Senate will consider legislation to give Louisiana’s colleges and universities autonomy over tuition costs.  Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate reports:


The bill would ask Louisiana voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether college and university systems should have control over how much students pay to go to college or if that power should remain with the state Legislature.  Currently, Louisiana is one of three states that lets state lawmakers set tuition and fee prices.


“I think that the thought process is we have some good management boards and those boards are capable of looking at the student population and being able to come up with tuitions that they think are adequate and satisfactory for the students they represent,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Jack Donahue, a Mandeville Republican and sponsor of the legislation.


Correction: Yesterday’s Daily Dime said the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee was going to debate a $300 million film credit cap on Monday. In fact, that bill was not scheduled for debate. The committee debated other film-related bills.


Number of the Day

$27 Million – Of $717 million spent from the Transportation Trust Fund, the amount that is actually used for state highways, according to Sen. Robert Adley (Source: The Advocate)