There has been little pushback to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ call for $1,000 teacher pay and $500 support staff raises. The goal is to institute a series of three $1,000 raises in an effort to reach the Southern average. But other states also are trying to raise teacher pay, which could push the Southern average again out of reach for Louisiana. Stephanie Grace of The Advocate discusses our neighbor to the west:
Monday, the Texas Senate unanimously passed a measure to give that state’s teachers raises of $5,000. The measure has the strong support of Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick and governor Greg Abbott, who declared it an emergency item in his State of the State address. It’s not expected to face such smooth sailing in the House, and there remain disagreements over whether to include support staff, whether local districts should have flexibility and how to pay for it, just like in Louisiana. Still, the scope of the proposal is enough to highlight just how far behind the state has fallen in this key metric, and how hard it will be to eventually catch up.
Census is leaving out children of color
When children and people in poverty are undercounted in the U.S. Census, it creates a problem for states. Federal money is tied to Census counts, and low, inaccurate counts of children and low-income families mean a state will lose out on federal funds to address the needs of people in poverty. Low-income families and children, who are disproportionately children and families of color, tend to be more transient than others, which makes getting a correct count difficult. But these incorrect counts are having serious implications. Charmaine Runes of the Urban Institute discusses:
Researchers estimated that in 1990, the net undercount for black children hovered around 8 percent, while that of the nonblack population was closer to 3 percent. In other words, young black children were underrepresented at twice the rate of nonblack peers in the 1990 Census. In 2010, young black children were still undercounted at twice the rate as young nonblack children—affecting federal funding allocations to programs that are supposed to serve them (PDF), like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and the National School Lunch Program.
Natural disasters don’t discriminate, but aid might
Louisianans are, unfortunately, all too familiar with natural disasters and the disaster recovery process. Although natural disasters do not discriminate based on race or economic status, there are disparities in access to federal aid when navigating the recovery process. Rebecca Hersher and Robert Benincasa of NPR’s All Things Considered discuss these disparities in the context of Hurricane Harvey:
The federal government spends billions of dollars annually helping communities rebuild and prevent future damage. But an NPR investigation has found that across the country, white Americans and those with more wealth often receive more federal dollars after a disaster than do minorities and those with less wealth. Federal aid isn’t necessarily allocated to those who need it most; it’s allocated according to cost-benefit calculations meant to minimize taxpayer risk.” … Many families struggle to successfully apply for money because they do not have access to a computer, she says, or do not have all the paperwork they need, or can’t take time off from work to meet with a FEMA representative.
Access to federal aid during Hurricane Harvey and other flooding disasters may be a glimpse into the future and the impact of climate change.
The bigger picture around the country is that some Americans will be more vulnerable and some will be more resilient in the face of climate change. And who wins and who loses appears to mirror existing inequalities. “Hardworking Americans who are working class are going to find their communities stressed even more than they are now,” says Andrew Light, an editor of the 2018 National Climate Assessment. “If you’re already a community at risk, you’re going to be at more risk.”
A resource for tax fairness
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy puts out an annual “Who Pays” report that breaks down income brackets by state and their contribution in sales, property, and income tax. As a follow-up, ITEP has also released a chart book that visually breaks down how taxes tend to disproportionately burden the poor:
And contrary to claims that everybody pays a “fair share” under sales and excise taxes, states relying heavily on these taxes to fund government tend to fare poorly in terms of the distribution of their tax systems. As this chart book shows, middle- and low-income taxpayers typically pay more tax on what they buy (sales and excise taxes) than on what they earn (income taxes), though many families may fail to notice this since sales taxes they pay are spread over countless purchases made throughout the year. Relying on sales tax benefits high-income taxpayers at the expense of low- and moderate-income families who often face above-average tax rates to pick up the slack.
The chartbook is a great resource for policy wonks, advocates and the general public. We highly recommend taking a look!
Number of the day
80 – The percentage of Louisiana children who attend public school as opposed to private, parochial, or homeschooling. (Source: Education Law Center)