The blue-ribbon task force that’s been working for months on recommendations for overhauling Louisiana’s tax structure is close to finishing its work. But already there are signs that its work won’t be well received by conservatives. Rep. John Schroder of Covington, whose legislation created the task force, wrote to its co-chairs this week charging that they’ve spent too much time looking at taxes and not enough time looking for ways to cut spending. The admonishment comes despite large cuts to higher education, K-12 education, public defenders, state parks and museums, the TOPS scholarship program, and the Department of Corrections in recent years. Jeremy Alford has the scoop at Lapolitics.com:
He wrote that the task force is spending too much time on preliminary findings related to tax policy as compared to budget structure. “Therefore, I request that the final report be balanced between budget and tax policy, including any options for reducing expenditures,” Schroder wrote. He added, “Also, it appears the task force is targeting a specific amount of revenue to raise instead of making recommendations to to give Louisiana the most efficient and fair tax policy for individuals and businesses… Without reviewing the state’s budget process in detail and recommending long-term budget changes that may produce savings, I’m not sure how the commission can recommend a target amount of revenue.”
Preparing for tomorrow’s jobs
It’s no secret that the United States in general – and Louisiana in particular – is not doing a good enough job of preparing the next generation of workers for the jobs that will be available to them. Roughly two-thirds of the total jobs in America in 2020 will require a postsecondary degree. But only 43 percent of working-age adults, by the most generous estimates, currently have such training. Dr. Ricardo Azziz does the math for Huffington Post, and concludes that America must do a better job of getting first-generation students into college – and making sure they stay long enough to get a degree.
Lest we think that First Gen students are a minority… or are minorities, think again. First Gen students comprise about one-third of all college undergraduates. And between 30% and 40% of potential college students in the U.S. A very large cohort of potential college graduates. And while many First Gen students are ethnic minorities, 50% of these individuals are actually non-Hispanic White. Thus, for those who care for such things, the conundrum of the First Gen student is not just a “minority or immigrant” problem. Overall, our nation’s competitiveness will be based largely on the preparedness of its workforce; which, to a great degree, means the college education they are able to achieve. Implementing effective methods for how to motivate, educate, and eventually ensure the success of the very large cohort of First Gen students is one of the most effective means of addressing our nation’s future workforce needs. And ensuring its future global competitiveness.
Where African Americans live
While racial gaps in income, poverty rates, and family wealth persist, the reality is most African Americans live above the poverty line. In addition, 39 percent of African Americans now live in suburbs compared to 36 percent who live in cities. Prompted by Donald Trump’s connection of African Americans and inner cities, The Atlantic’s Alena Samuels provides an updated picture along with some important considerations for policymakers:
Of course, Trump’s inaccurate characterization doesn’t mean that inequality, especially when it comes to income and poverty, doesn’t exist. America has a long way to go before a person’s race doesn’t predict where she may fall on on important economic measures. And anyone who is going to be president for “all the people” will have to address the legacy of racism that has led to African Americans lagging behind whites in that regard. But trying to help African Americans by just looking at the inner cities would miss whole swaths of the population: people living in poverty in the suburbs, people living in the South, where the safety net has all but disappeared, people struggling to remain in the middle class. Focusing on those categories of people could help African Americans, and other Americans too.
Cuba trip lays groundwork
As the United States rebuilds a relationship with Cuba, a recent trade mission by state officials sought to firm up Louisiana’s connection to the island nation. The envoy led by Gov. John Bel Edwards met with a host of Cuban trade leaders, business people, and port officials to discuss plans for collaboration if and when the U.S. embargo is fully lifted. The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp traveled with the delegation and details what an improved trading relationship would mean:
The effort is also heavily backed by Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, a popular Republican who accompanied Edwards on last week’s mission. Louisiana has led all states in exports to Cuba over the past decade, totaling more than $1.4 billion since 2006. But Louisiana leaders say that a fully-resumed relationship could result in as much as $500 million in Louisiana products, including rice, poultry and beans, being exported to Cuba, which relies heavily on imports for its food supply.
Number of the Day
39 – Percentage of African Americans living in the suburbs compared to 36 percent who live in cities. (Source: US Census Bureau via The Atlantic)