About that fiscal cliff

About that fiscal cliff

Time is running out for Gov. John Bel Edwards and GOP leaders in the House to strike a deal on how to avoid the $1.5 billion fiscal cliff.

Number of the Day

3.2 million - Increase in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2017. After years of decline, the uninsured rate ticked up 1.3 percentage points last year. (Source: Gallup via Axios)

Time is running out for Gov. John Bel Edwards and GOP leaders in the House to strike a deal on how to avoid the $1.5 billion fiscal cliff. The governor’s budget blueprint is being presented to legislators on Friday, and will call for deep cuts to health care, higher education and other services to make up for the expiration of more than $1 billion in temporary taxes. Tyler Bridges, back at The Advocate after a Harvard fellowship, notes that Republicans have yet to signal what, if anything, they will support.

[Rep. Jay] Morris (of Monroe) dismissed Edwards’ demands that House Republicans must offer a plan, saying the only way to determine what the people want is to have lawmakers debating and voting on bills. “You can poll people all you want before session, but until the bills are out there, you won’t get agreement for things in advance,” Morris said. [Rep. Kenny] Havard (of St. Francisville) and other moderate Republicans disagree. “What’s wrong with John Bel coming up with a plan and us coming up with a plan and working together on a compromise?” asked Havard. “That’s what we should be doing.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards laid out his case for tax reform in a guest column for The Advocate.

While lawmakers committed in 2016 to return to Baton Rouge to implement comprehensive reforms, over the course of six legislative sessions the only things they have approved are temporary revenues that will soon expire. Without action from the Legislature, many of the most important services you rely on that are funded by state government will have to be cut. That’s not a scare tactic. That’s basic math.

The inimitable Jim Beam of the Lake Charles American-Press isn’t buying the claims by GOP leaders that they need more details about the governor’s plans.

Stick it to the little guy. That’s the Republican leadership’s goal. It’s no secret that many House Republicans would be perfectly satisfied with making that 1 percent state sales tax increase passed in 2016 permanent, even though Tax Foundation for years has ranked Louisiana worst in the nation for its sales tax.

 

Medicaid work requirements won’t work

Last week’s announcement by the Trump administration that it would allow states to require low-income people to work as a condition of receiving Medicaid coverage could lead to long-term, sweeping changes to the federal-state health care partnership. Mattie Quinn reports for Governing that 10 states have applied for waivers.

Work requirements could have the biggest impact in states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA. Out of the 10 states that have proposed work requirements, two of them — Kansas and Wisconsin — have refused federal money to make more low-income people eligible for Medicaid. Utah enacted a slim Medicaid expansion for chronically homeless people with substance abuse issues, and Maine voters passed Medicaid expansion last fall — although its implementation is up in the air.

In Louisiana, where more than 457,000 low-income adults have gained coverage since 2016, Gov. John Bel Edwards said last week that his administration is putting together a plan for work requirements. But as LBP’s senior policy analyst Jeanie Donovan notes in a new blog, the vast majority of Medicaid expansion recipients are already working, in school or caring full-time for a family member. The rest typically have a valid reason for not working.

While the idea of a work requirement may sound good to some, the reality is that it would take away health coverage, create more red tape and make it harder for many people who want to work to find employment.

 

The most important teachers are paid the least

Some of the best investment governments can make involve the youngest children. The experiences and learning that occurs before age 3 can have lifelong effects – positive and negative – as research shows high-quality early education can help bridge the gap between rich and poor. But as Jeneen Interlandi points out in a lengthy cover story for The New York Times Magazine (the whole thing is worth a read), the teachers who are charged with this vital task typically have far less training – and much lower salaries – than those who teach older children.

Children in low-income and minority neighborhoods stand to gain (or lose) the most from whatever preschool system we ultimately establish. And the one-on-one exchanges between students and teachers — what developmental psychologists call “process quality” — may well be the key to success or failure. In other words, if preschool classrooms really are crackling with the kind of raw power that can change the course of a life, that power most likely resides in the ability of teachers …. to connect with students like the little blond boy.

 

Number of the Day

3.2 million – Increase in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2017. After years of decline, the uninsured rate ticked up 1.3 percentage points last year. (Source: Gallup via Axios)