Racial segregation and flooding in Louisiana’s capital

Racial segregation and flooding in Louisiana’s capital

The Oct. 12 vote to create the breakaway city of St. George in East Baton Rouge Parish is only the latest chapter in a long story of racial segregation in and around Louisiana’s capital city. We already know that segregation leads to poor outcomes for children of color. But postdoctoral student William Horne, writing in The Washington Post, notes that the suburban sprawl created by the capital region’s white flight has also contributed to flooding. 

The patterns of development, fanned by white flight from the city’s public schools, mean that the region, which inches closer to the Gulf of Mexico every year, has fewer resources with which to fight coastal erosion and climate change.  … The web of white-related infrastructure that has emerged as a result of white flight and secession makes the low-lying area — already prone to flooding — especially vulnerable. The runoff from additional lanes of highway, expansive parking lots and new subdivisions combine to create dangerous flash flooding problems that the city experiences on a semiannual basis, where runoff floods cars and damages homes.

A good education starts early
The need for more investment in early childhood education has been prominent in this year’s governor’s race, and much has been made of the state’s $19 million investment in child-care subsidies that has allowed more than 1,000 families to get off a waiting list for services. But Xavier University President C. Reynold Verret reminds us that that New Orleans has been making its own investments in young children, and has an opportunity to build on them as it constructs its 2020 budget: 

Our local leaders made history by investing funds in the 2018 city budget to increase access to quality early care and education for low-income children, birth through age 3. They doubled this investment last year and have seen the state, the federal government, and philanthropy increase their investments during this time. As the mayor and City Council work to finalize the city budget over the next month, they have a chance to make history once again. … With the potential for the first time of a dollar-to-dollar state match for every additional dollar the city invests in early care and education this year, the value of this investment is undeniable. Children and their families are waiting for these opportunities.


The federal tax code favors the rich
Households that reap all or most of their wealth from investments pay taxes at a significantly lower rate than than families that work for their income. That’s because income from capital gains – or pass-through income from corporations – is subject to lower tax rates than ordinary income from work. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities looks at ways the tax code can be repaired to make it more fair and adequate:  

If policymakers also adopted the reforms to stepped-up basis and capital gains deferral mentioned above, wealthy taxpayers would have fewer ways to avoid capital gains taxes, and an increase in the capital gains rate above about 30 percent would become feasible substantively and raise more revenue. This underscores the importance of those reform proposals: they raise revenue not only directly but also indirectly by reducing incentives for tax avoidance.


Vicious school integration fight
A Baltimore suburban community that was founded on an ethos of inclusion is being torn along racial lines due to an ongoing effort to desegregate its public schools. The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein reports that the plan would transfer 7,400 students to different schools in the community in an effort to combat a trend that has seen some schools become havens for predominantly white, wealthy students while others are disproportionately populated by low-income students of color.  

Protesters in matching T-shirts have thronged school board meetings. Thousands of letters and emails opposing the redistricting plan, some of them overtly racist, have poured in to policymakers. One high school student made a death threat against the superintendent of schools, Michael J. Martirano.

Number of the Day
6.2% – Increase in per-capita income in the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area in 2018, to $46,509. That’s the biggest year-over-year growth among Louisiana’s nine metro areas, and the 27th fastest growth in the nation (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis)