Gov. John Bel Edwards headlined the Council for a Better Louisiana’s annual meeting on Thursday, and used the occasion to call for an overhaul of the state’s broken tax system. He said the ideas put forth by a blue-ribbon tax commission – while not new – will serve as a basis for his recommendations and that the goal is to make Louisiana’s revenue structure more fair, predictable and “sufficient” to provide basic services. The AP’s star reporter, Melinda Deslatte, was there:
“There is no Santa Claus, and people want and deserve a certain level of services,” Edwards said. “We just have to live in the real world, and we have to decide that we are going to pay for the government that we want. And we’ve got to bring this into balance. The longer we wait, the greater disservice we do to our state.” House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, attended the speech and said he’s optimistic the tax session can be successful. Though House Republicans blocked several of Edwards’ tax ideas earlier this year, Barras said he believes lawmakers want to work on a successful, stabilizing tax rewrite.
Inequality and the American Dream
Widening inequality and an overall slowdown in economic growth are the main reasons why many children no longer can expect to meet or eclipse their parents’ economic success. That’s according to groundbreaking research released this week by Stanford economist Raj Chetty and others showing that widening income inequality accounts for more than 70 percent of the decline in economic mobility. Ben Casselman reports for Fivethirtyeight.
The researchers identify two main drivers of the drop in mobility. First, economic growth has slowed in recent decades. That means the economic pie is growing more slowly than it used to, which makes it harder for each generation to surpass the previous one — there is less new income to go around. Second, income inequality has risen, which means that fewer people are benefiting from any new income being generated. Their research comes out the same week as a separate study by French economist Thomas Piketty and others that found that the bottom half of American adults by income today earn no more in pre-tax income than the bottom half of American adults did in the 1970s.
Public health in Concordia Parish
A writer for Vox.com paid a visit to one of Louisiana’s poorest parishes to investigate the reasons why the Pelican State routinely ranks 50th out of 50 states for overall health. She fingers some familiar culprits: smoking, obesity, drug overdose deaths, and infant mortality – much of it tied to the poverty and racial disparities that are endemic in the Louisiana Delta. It’s also a story of government neglect, as residents of Ferriday have trouble getting basic things like sewers that most Americans take for granted. Julia Belluz investigates:
Most of the people I met here don’t feel served by President Obama, nor do they think Trump will help them. But some believe the president-elect could make their lives worse. Among Concordia’s many distinctions are a history of slavery and longstanding racial tensions and disparities. And the African Americans here are terrified about living under an administration that was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. I left the Deep South with a worry in my gut: If the conditions these people were living in are already very bad, they are likely about to get much worse.
Trump and Louisiana’s rebuilding needs
President-elect Donald Trump is in Louisiana today stumping for Republican candidates in tomorrow’s runoff elections. It’s his first visit since the August floods. The Advocate’s editorial board notes that Trump’s visit provides another opportunity for state officials to press the case for more rebuilding aid.
Legislation pending in Congress this week includes an additional $1 billion in disaster aid for the state. In September, Louisiana secured $437.8 million in recovery assistance from Washington. Edwards has lobbied for a $ 4 billion aid package to address Louisiana’s needs. Among the top priorities for the recovery is a well-supported assistance program for blighted neighborhoods, which included many homeowners who were not required to carry flood insurance. … Trump’s visit to south Louisiana today is supposed to be brief, but anything that keeps the state’s needs before the president-elect can benefit a region that needs as many advocates in the nation’s capital as it can get.
Number of the Day
30,000- Opioid deaths in 2015, surpassing gun homicides for the first time (Source: NOLA.com via Center for Disease Control and Prevention)