In defense of ITEP reforms

In defense of ITEP reforms

Louisiana is bracing for a surge in industrial construction, according to economist Loren Scott, with several new billion-dollar projects slated to start construction in the coming months. The Advocate’s editorial board writes that this shows that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to scale back the country’s most lucrative industrial tax incentive program hasn’t had the damaging effect that critics suggested it would. 

The industrial tax exemptions were once almost totally rubber-stamped by a board in Baton Rouge. Now, local governments — like those in Texas, a major competitor for industrial facilities — are more broadly included in decisions. Few have rejected exemptions totally. 


Fighting for the lost Black generation
A quarter century after the 1994 federal crime bill became law, it continues to disproportionately disrupt the lives and prospects of millions of people of color, especially black men and boys. The law encourages states to adopt longer, tougher sentences, cut higher education opportunities for incarcerated people and pour billions into building prisons. In an editorial in Colorlines, DeAnna Hoskins, Andrea C. James and Kumar Rao argue that it’s time to acknowledge the harm this law has done, and to dismantle it:

Nearly five million people are arrested, taken out of our communities and jailed every year. There are currently more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, languishing in federal facilities, state prisons and local jails. People of color make up 37 percent of the U.S. population, but 67 percent of the prison population. Every year, more than a quarter of a million students are arrested or referred to law enforcement at school—70 percent are Black boys. Black girls are also increasingly criminalized and suspended at school. In all, half of all U.S. adults have a family member who has been incarcerated, which studies show destabilizes families and whole communities.


Once-in-a-generation opportunity for bail reform
Two federal courts have ruled that the system New Orleans uses to fund its prison is unconstitutional. Presumptively innocent people are held simply because they are poor and cannot pay bail. The city  is now considering a plan that would dramatically reform this historically racist and punitive system. Kenneth Polite and Alec Karakatsanis write in the Advocate that the Crescent City has a chance to become a national leader::

They have a detailed plan, supported by 32 local organizations, to address the unlawfulness, save families $9 million a year, better respect safety, and save all taxpayers money by lowering the jail population. The city’s low-income black families will be particularly impacted by their leaders’ decision because they have been disproportionately targeted by the predatory practices for years.

More than 4-in-10 Black children live in high-poverty neighborhoods
Neighborhoods with concentrated poverty usually lack quality schools, accessible job opportunities, reliable transportation and safe places for recreation. This is severely limiting for the millions of American children who call them home. While concentrated child poverty has fallen in the nation as a whole, Louisiana is one of 10 states nationally – the only state in the South – where more children lived in high-poverty neighborhoods from 2013-17 than from 2008-12. A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows the role that discriminatory policies have played in confining 41% of Black children in Louisiana to high-poverty neighborhoods.

High-poverty neighborhoods generally don’t provide access to healthy food and quality public schools or medical care, and they often subject residents to greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality or lead. Financial hardships and fear of violence also can cause chronic stress in children, which has been linked with diabetes, heart disease and stroke later in life. … Federal and local policies, such as mandated segregation, or discriminatory real estate practices, such as redlining and limited access to financial institutions, locked millions of African-American families in communities that lacked resources to help children thrive.


Didja Know? Podcast 10-3-19
After a long hiatus, LBP’s Didja Know? Podcast is back. In this episode LBP’s Stacey Roussel and Neva Butkus break down Louisiana’s state-level Census data (poverty, child poverty, median household income, income inequality). And LBP’s executive director Jan Moller talks about the four constitutional amendments on the Oct. 12 primary ballot, and the (lack of) major issues in governor’s race. Click here to listen.


Number of the Day
226,000 – Average number of children living in concentrated poverty between 2013 and 2017 in Louisiana according to US Census data, an 11% increase from the 2008-12 average. (Source: The Annie E. Casey Foundation)