House Republicans released their tax plan this morning, one day later than originally scheduled due to last-minute negotiations. The plan would cut taxes for corporations and individuals by $1.51 trillion over a decade, which would likely force cuts to federal health and safety-net programs that benefit middle-class families. Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport of the New York Times:
The House plan, released after weeks of internal debate, conflict and delay, is far from final and will ignite a legislative and lobbying fight as Democrats, business groups and other special interests tear into the text ahead of a Republican sprint to get the legislation passed and to President Trump’s desk by Christmas. … Lawmakers must keep the cost of the bill to $1.5 trillion if they want to pass it along party lines and avoid a fillibuster by Democrats. Lawmakers have been scrambling for days to find a way to make cuts that are expected to cost trillions of dollars into a $1.5 trillion hole. That has prompted a host of changes on the corporate and individual side, including a new twist that would limit the mortgage interest deduction by capping it at $500,000.
Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur got Sen. John Kennedy’s thoughts on what to expect next:
“All hell’s going to break loose,” said Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. “This is going to have plenty of cheesecake. But it’s going to have plenty of spinach. This is broadening base and lowering rates.” … Some of the winners of the eventual bill seem clear — corporations would get a tax cut, and many partnerships and closely-held businesses would pay a reduced rate of 25 percent. But the losers are largely still unknown — the “special interests” whose tax deductions, credits and other breaks would be reduced or eliminated. Such changes are crucial to limiting the bill’s deficit impact to just $1.5 trillion over 10 years, the amount required by the GOP budget.
Summit will address redistricting in Louisiana
In 2021, Louisiana will re-draw the maps that create the state’s congressional districts, as well as state House and state Senate districts. It is an opportunity, say the founders of Fair Districts Louisiana, to rethink how Louisiana goes about dividing up its electoral districts. Working with LSU’s Reilly Center, they plan to bring together lawmakers, concerned citizens and experts at a summit in Baton Rouge in January to explore new options. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte has the story:
Rep. Julie Stokes, who plans to attend the summit, said Louisiana districts have been drawn to be “ultraliberal or ultraconservative,” and don’t represent where many residents sit ideologically. She sees the January event as a way to learn about “best practices across the country.” “I just think that there’s a whole lot of people that are underrepresented because districts are drawn in a way that are too ideological in one direction or the other,” said Stokes, a Kenner Republican. “I have people come up to me all the time and say that they feel like the outliers are making all the decisions.”
Housing policies must address both rent and income
Affordable housing options for low and middle-income families continue to shrink. In 2010, 11.2 percent of unsubsidized apartments were affordable for very low-income families; today it has dwindled to 4.3 percent. Jenny Schuetz of the Brookings Institution reminds us that when developing solutions to the housing affordability crisis, it’s important to remember that “affordability” depends both on what families are earning and the cost of their rent.
From a policy perspective, it’s important to know what’s driving the change in affordability, because appropriate interventions may differ. If rents are increasing rapidly because of supply constraints or rising development costs, local governments might want to streamline the development process or relax zoning. By contrast, if data indicates that declining affordability mostly results from stagnant wages or declining working hours among low-skilled workers, then income supplements might be considered to be a more direct policy solution. Housing advocates and researchers often rely on standard affordability measures because they are a convenient shorthand to those in the field. Altogether, thinking carefully about how we measure affordability will help us better understand the underlying causes of the problem and design appropriate policy responses.
Upfront investments in re-entry services needed
As 1,900 nonviolent offenders win early release from prison this week – the centerpiece of Louisiana’s landmark criminal justice reforms – some law enforcement officials continue to grumble. While the state expects to save some money from a reduced prison population, advocates and public officials believe more dollars need to be directed towards reentry services The Advocate’s Grace Toohey has the story.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he believes the intent to release these inmates — 128 of whom were prosecuted in his parish —came from a good place, but he worries about their long term success without more help. “Our concern is that these people are just being released, without a whole lot of assistance being given to them,” Moore said. “We’re just not giving them any help.”… Dennis Schrantz, a co-director of the state’s Center for Justice Innovation which works on reentry programs both inside and outside of prison, said he agrees with Moore that there should be more programs for the formerly incarcerated. He’s spearheading the Louisiana Prison Reentry Initiative, a new state program set for implementation in 2018 that would bring strategic planning and personal evaluations to a segment of prisoners reentering the five biggest parishes. While, the program will not fully apply to Wednesday’s newly released prisoners, Schrantz said through its development they have created a stronger network for the formerly incarcerated.
Number of the Day
85 – Percentage of students in alternative schools in Louisiana who are black; just 44 percent of the state’s student population is black. (Source: Nola.com/The Times Picayune)