Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Economic recovery leaving behind black children; Retirees pushing for veto override; National media not impressed with SAVE gimmick; and The world is flat


Economic recovery leaving behind black children

In 2013, slightly more than one in 10 white children in America lived in poverty. Among black children, that rate was almost four in 10–a truly shocking disparity. And a new report from the Pew Research Center adds even more reason for concern. While the overall child poverty rate has dropped since 2010 as the economy recovered, the rate for black children didn’t budge. The New York Times reports:


The share of American children living in poverty fell to about 20 percent in 2013 from 22 percent in 2010, according to the report by the Pew Research Center, which analyzed data from the United States Census Bureau. But the poverty rate remained stable for black children, while it fell for Hispanic, white and Asian children, a sign of just how pervasive and stubborn poverty has been for African-Americans…For the first time since the federal government started collecting the data, the number of black children in poverty appears to have overtaken the number of white children, even though white children far outnumber black children in the American population, the report said. About 4.2 million black children were living in poverty in 2013, compared with 4.1 million white children, though researchers said the difference was not statistically significant.


While the report didn’t address why trends in child poverty rates among different races were diverging, child poverty is strongly tied to the unemployment rates of parents. This is further evidence that the tepid economic recovery is not being widely felt. Given the links between child poverty and adult poverty, an economy today that works for some, but not all, could have long-lasting consequences.


Retirees pushing for veto override

It is a long shot, considering that legislators have never before held a veto session under the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, but the Retired State Employees Association of Louisiana is making the effort anyway. At issue is Gov. Jindal’s veto of a bill that would have given an average $30 a month cost-of-living adjustment to 135,000 retirees. Melinda Deslatte with the Associated Press has the details:


A decision will come this week. Lawmakers have until midnight Thursday to return ballots if they want to cancel the session, which was automatically set for July 21 when the governor issued vetoes. It only takes a majority vote of the House or Senate to scrap the session…The Republican governor, who is running for president, rejected the 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment bill, citing concerns from national credit rating agencies about the debts of Louisiana’s publicly funded retirement systems. “Unfortunately, in its final form, this bill undoes prior reforms and undermines our commitment to keep our promises to Louisiana retirees,” Jindal wrote in his veto message. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Sam Jones of Franklin, said Jindal’s poor budgeting practices have done more to jeopardize the state’s credit rating than Jones’ retirement legislation…Supporters said that would help cover retirees’ state health insurance costs, which are escalating under policy changes enacted by the Jindal administration.


National media not impressed with SAVE gimmick

The SAVE credit–a “tax credit” on paper that was created to offset a phantom higher education fee, all in an effort to please a Washington lobbyist–at times seemed to dominate the final days of the legislative session last month. Now, the tale of SAVE has gone national–and folks aren’t impressed. Gov. Jindal told Fox News Sunday that SAVE was an actual tax cut for families. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog disagreed:


The state budget that Jindal approved in fiscal 2016 includes fee increases and reductions in tax exemptions and credits…And, it creates a new tax credit that appears to offset these revenue increases over five years. But in practice, this is an accounting measure set up to avoid a net tax revenue increase on paper. Jindal says the tax credit is actually a tax cut for families, but that’s not the case. Jindal claims families will see a tax cut thanks to his new budget. But in reality, families won’t notice anything as a result of this program added to the budget, as state officials confirmed…Such accounting tricks are the reason why many people hate politics…


The ongoing chicanery over SAVE shows once again that Louisiana has failed to find structural solutions to our budget problems. Putting the state on sound footing will fall to the next governor.


The world is flat
Breaking news on Tuesday that Iran and six major world powers led by the United States have reach an accord on nuclear arms control could have immediate economic consequences for Louisiana. Huh? The New York Times reports that in anticipation of the lifting of tough economic sanctions–which would allow Iran, with the fourth-largest proven reserves of oil in the world, to increase energy production–the price of West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.7 percent to $51.29 during early trading in London. Just another reminder that we are truly living in a globalized world economy.


Number of the Day


38.3 — Percent of black children who lived in poverty in 2013. The rate for white children was 10.7 percent (Source: Pew Research Center via New York Times)