Women in Louisiana earn just 70 cents for each dollar a man is paid – the worst gender pay gap in the nation – and for black women it’s just 48 cents for every dollar. But, the disparity doesn’t end there. The National Women’s Law Center in partnership with Groundwork Collaborative, the Roosevelt Institute, and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, recently released a trio of reports investigating the role of gender and racial bias in the tax code and suggesting ways to harness our tax laws as a tool for equity. Annie Lowrey at The Atlantic highlights the reports’ findings, including policies that could most readily make a difference:
Finally, and perhaps most important, the reports stress that the tax code encourages wealth building among the already wealthy, amplifying existing economic fault lines. And it fails to fund many women’s most urgent priorities, including universal health care, subsidized child care, universal prekindergarten, and paid family leave. Those kinds of policies would help keep women in the workforce and eliminate the wage penalties women face if they have kids.
Preparing for tomorrow’s economy
As the state political season draws to a close, Louisiana’s next governor will soon confront the perennial challenge of how to generate the kind of economic growth that provides workers with secure jobs that can support a family. The Advocate’s Lanny Keller attended this week’s Smart Growth Summit in Baton Rouge, where researcher Ross DeVol stressed the continued importance of investing in education.
His key metric is the number of young firms, not startups but businesses that survive and start to grow in their early years. These create job growth and, particularly when employing better-educated workers, are the wealth-creators of the new economy. “You have to grow up young firms to be successful over the long term,” he said. The states in the heartland — 19 states that are mostly in the Mississippi Valley — grew fewer young firms than the rest of the country. Louisiana, Arkansas and Iowa of the 19 actually lost young firms from 2010-16.
(Adequately) funding public defenders
Public defenders represent citizens accused of crimes who can’t afford an attorney. And, in New Orleans, that accounts for 85% of the cases tried by the District Attorney’s office. That’s why the chronically underfunded Orleans Public Defender is asking the New Orleans City Council to increase its funding from $1.8 million to something more inline with the DA’s allocation of $6.7 million. And while both agencies are facing challenges, The Louisiana Weekly reports on how differences not only in funding levels, but also employee benefits and organizational expenses are impacting OPD’s already strapped finances:
(Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson) Palmer also suggested other possible in-kind funding streams for the OPD, noting that currently the OPD staff currently pays for their own work mileage and their own health insurance and have no pension plan. In contrast, DA staffers have access to city vehicles, and they have health insurance and a pension through the city. She added that the OPD has to pay its own utilities bills and security services out of the office’s own coffers.
Green New Deal for the Gulf South
The five states that comprise the Gulf South play a unique role in the climate crisis. The region is not just a hub for petrochemical production, but its low-lying communities are some of the nation’s most vulnerable to rising sea levels. A new policy platform released this week by a network of activists aims to bring a Southern voice to the debate (LBP is a signatory). The platform, which the group plans to submit to the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, advocates for policies to clean up industrial pollution, protect fisheries and provide job training. Sara Sneath, writing in The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate has the story, including how one local community is being impacted:
Members of the United Houma Nation are among those who are facing the decision to relocate because of land loss and rising seas, said Lanor Curole, the tribal administrator for the UHN. “We recognize that these are complex issues,” she said. “Jobs that create living wages for all must be part of the solution.”
Number of the Day:
$13 to 30 million – The minimum cost to New Orleans government of family financial insecurity from eviction and unpaid property taxes and utility bills, which suggests cities have a financial interest in ensuring citizens have access to greater economic opportunity. (Source: The Urban Institute)