The efforts to rewrite Louisiana’s oft-amended constitution appear to be losing momentum. Jeremy Alford reports that the con-con idea, popular among special interest groups and voters who want fewer restrictions on how state dollars can be spent, remains woefully short on specifics. And it’s the details that matter when it comes to rewriting the state’s charter. Alford touches on this and more in his latest opinion column:
Bedrock laws aren’t easy to tackle. Powerful government officials would kick and scream at the mere mention. Horror stories would be presented to the public by all sides. Non-partisan or not, the messengers would likewise take on gunfire. Do you think there are too many public colleges and universities in Louisiana? Good luck dealing with the chancellors and their alumni networks. Do you want to see the financing schemes for local governments changed? Just try and get past the political blockades sheriffs, assessors and clerks would construct.
Black vs. white unemployment
Whenever President Donald Trump is accused of racism, he typically responds by pointing to the unemployment rate among African-Americans, which has fallen since he assumed office in 2017. But even though the black unemployment rate is at an historic low, major gaps remain between the employment prospects for blacks and whites. Louisiana is among 14 states and the District of Columbia with black unemployment above 6 percent. Nationally, the black unemployment rate is still nearly double the white unemployment rate. Displaced Louisianan Laura Maggi of Route Fifty explains:
Discriminatory employment practices, insufficient investment in public schools and persistent housing segregation have all been cited by researchers as factors in the stubborn racial disparities with unemployment. In a piece for the Brookings Institution earlier this year, fellow Andre Perry noted that being able to get to work on good public transportation as an important consideration for low-income workers. Perry identified a number of majority black cities with high employment numbers where there was also high use of public transit.
New idea to treat Hep C
Nearly 35,000 Louisianans who get their health coverage through Medicaid are infected with the Hepatitis C virus. But only a tiny fraction of them get medicine each year to help alleviate the highly curable malady. This is because the cost of treatment is extremely high, in the tens of thousands of dollars. Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate reports on a new financing approach being advanced by Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee, which is awaiting federal approval.
The idea is being referred to as a “subscription-based” model: The state will take the money that it currently spends toward Hep C treatment in Medicaid and the prison system, and find a drugmaker that will agree to be paid that amount for unlimited access to the medication, likely over a three-to-five year period. “We’re really optimistic that we may be the first state in the nation to get close to curing Hep C,” Gee said. Gee said some of the nation’s biggest drugmakers have already expressed positive interest in the idea.
Homeownership rates still lagging
Millennials aren’t the only generation buying fewer homes than expected. The housing market took a hit during the Great Recession and Americans from every age group are still purchasing homes at a lower rate than in the years immediately preceding the economic downturn. Americans under 35 are buying homes at a rate 7 percent lower than before the recession. In addition to the economic barriers to homeownership faced by younger people, cultural shifts are partially responsible. Derrick Moore, a senior communications specialist at the Census Bureau, writes:
Those under age 35 are much less likely to own a home than those age 65 and older. “Most Americans think that the ideal age people should marry is 25, but only about a quarter of adults have actually done so by that age,” said Census Bureau demographer Jonathan Vespa, author of “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016”, issued in 2017. “Because marriage is closely tied with establishing their own household, young adults may be delaying homeownership to later ages as well.”
Number of the Day:
384 – The number of Medicaid patients in Louisiana who were successful in attaining treatment for Hepatitis C last year, out of nearly 35,000 Medicaid patients living with the illness. (Source: The Advocate)