Paid leave for Louisiana’s workers

Paid leave for Louisiana’s workers

The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without a paid leave program to compensate workers while they take time off to care for their own or their families’ medical needs, or to care for a newborn baby. As a result, millions of American workers are forced to choose being there for their families and keeping a much needed paycheck. But Senate Bill 186, by state Senator J.P. Morrell and backed by a coalition of organizations including the Louisiana Budget Project, would add Louisiana to the six states and Washington D.C. that have adopted paid leave policies of their own. The Advocate’s Bryn Stole has details on the proposal and the headwinds it faces in the state legislature.

“Too often in Louisiana, families must choose between keeping their job and doing what’s right and necessary for their families,” Morrell said. “That should not be a choice anybody has to make,” the senator added. Morrell’s bill, Senate Bill 186, would create a state-run fund to pay out partial paychecks to working Louisianans dealing with family medical emergencies, caring for newborn children, family members on military deployments or other sudden strains on families. … Caitlin Berni, a veteran political consultant who’s helping lead the coalition, said creating a paid family and medical leave program is “one of those rare, bipartisan opportunities to pass legislation that will benefit all Louisiana families.”

An analysis by LBP Senior Policy Analyst Stacey Rousse explains how a paid leave proposal similar to the one in SB 186 would benefit low-income Louisiana workers who can least afford to miss pay in order to care for their families.


Hear their voices
Public testimony day in the House Appropriations Committee offers legislators and the public a rare opportunity to see how budget decisions affect those helped by state assistance and programs and harmed by cuts to state aid. While Louisiana is no longer staring down a fiscal crisis, advocates for people with developmental disabilities still came out to explain how simply maintaining current service levels falls far short of what’s needed. The Advocate’s Sam Karlin reports:

“We’re here today asking you, pleading with you, restore our funding so we can continue to operate, so our doors can continue to open,” said Sharon Gomez, of Evergreen Life Services, which provides services for people with developmental disabilities. “35,000 citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities are counting on you to do what it takes so their livelihood can continue.” With often tearful testimony, advocates asked for several million dollars to fund programs like TEFRA, which would give people coverage for children with developmental disabilities even if they don’t normally qualify for Medicaid. Others sought about $6 million for two human services authorities, including the Florida Parishes Human Service Authority, which would bolster developmental disabilities services. Mental health advocates said their programs remain fragmented and underfunded.


College admissions inequities go deeper than “Aunt Becky-gate”
The recent college admissions scandal engulfing celebrities like Full House’s Lori Loughlin is significant, but it just scratches the surface of the ways prestigious universities favor wealthy students. Lucas Spielfogel runs a  nonprofit that helps high schoolers navigate the college admissions process. A Yale University graduate himself, Spielfogel shares how he personally benefited from these inequities and his privilege in the Baton Rouge Business Report:

It’s easy to understand how material privilege disproportionately favors wealthy families like mine in this process. An exorbitant tuition is a small price to pay after eighteen years of private school, music lessons, summer programs, test prep and other investments in curating the perfect college applicant. This is to say nothing of legacy applicants, who are admitted at five times the rate of non-legacies, or applicants accepted because their parents donated or likely will. My “ticket” was rowing, a sport one almost has to be affluent to compete in, as it is mainly offered at prohibitively expensive prep schools. My grades and SAT scores were just strong enough for the tailwind of privilege to push me to Yale under the illusion I was especially deserving. This is the more insidious injustice you’ll find at selective colleges: the widespread belief among wealthy, white students—who have been buoyed by resources and favors at every turn—that they’ve earned everything that others could have if they had just worked harder.


A shrinking New Orleans
Following years of growth after Hurricane Katrina cut the city’s population in half, new population figures released by the U.S. Census BUREAU show that New Orleans is starting to see a population decline. This drop is concerning to policymakers worried about the occupational diversity of a city that relies disproportionately on tourism as a key driver of economic activity. But population declines aren’t limited to the Crescent City: Louisiana as a whole lost nearly 11,000 residents last year. As the state looks to stem population losses, investments in the people of Louisiana couldn’t be more important. Jeff Adelson at The Advocate reports on the new numbers from the Census.

New Orleans saw its population shrink by nearly 1,000 people between 2016 and 2018, the first decline the city has seen since tens of thousands of displaced residents began returning after the storm, according to census figures. The drop may mirror a nationwide trend that has seen residents leaving core cities, in part because of the high cost of housing and other necessities, for smaller and cheaper areas, demographers said. And it may also point to weaknesses in the economy of New Orleans and of Louisiana as a whole, which lost 10,840 residents over the course of a year. … “It’s 14 years after Katrina and several years into a number of economic development policies like trying to develop a digital economy, and the population trends are not positive,” [Allison] Plyer[, Chief Demographer at the Data Center in New Orleans,] said. “We might need to take a harder look at our strategies for growing the economy and diversifying it.” The population losses also come as the city is facing an affordable housing crisis that has priced out some people unable to find houses or apartments they can afford.


Number of the Day
61,000 – Minimum number of people – disproportionately male, Black, and Latinx – in solitary confinement in the United States on any given day. (Source: Vox)