A roadmap to child wellbeing

A roadmap to child wellbeing

Louisiana ranks 49th in the country for overall child well-being, according to the latest KIDS COUNT data published by Agenda for Children. The group’s report, A Roadmap to Improve Child Well-Being in Louisiana, ranks Louisiana against other states in categories including economic well-being (50th), education (48th), health (42) and family and community (48th). Alongside 16 indicators of child well-being, the report emphasizes what Louisiana needs to do to improve each category, and offers policy recommendations that would support these improvements. 

Louisiana should be especially invested in the well-being of our children because, more than any other state, our population is made up of people who were born and raised here. In 2018, 78% of Louisiana residents were born here, making us the state with the largest proportion of residents who were born in that state.1 Our unusually low rate of mobility means that any investments we make in our children today are likely to continue paying off for generations to come.   


Trump proposes cuts to safety net programs
President Donald Trump is proposing to extend the individual income tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy and that are due to expire in 2025. He would finance that tax giveaway – and a substantial increase in military spending – with deep cuts to federal safety net programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The New York Times’ Jim Tankersley, Margot Sanger-Katz, Alan Rappeport and Emily Cochrane report: 

It still makes major changes to health care programs, including several that would tend to lower federal spending on Medicaid, by reducing the share of medical bills the federal government will pay for the Obamacare expansion population and imposing new requirements on beneficiaries who wish to enroll. All together, it proposed combined cuts to spending in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act subsidies that equal a trillion dollars — cuts that would mean substantial program changes.

The election-year spending blueprint is unlikely to gain much traction on Capitol Hill, but provides a useful glimpse of where the president would try to take the country if re-elected to a second term. Paul N. Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains how the budget would unravel Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion and leave more low-income people without health insurance: 

The budget would eliminate the ACA’s enhanced federal matching funding for the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to low-income adults. That would very likely lead states to end Medicaid coverage for most of the 13 million people who secured it due to the expansion.


Which region has the most clout at the Legislature?
Louisiana legislators who lead House and Senate committees have enormous sway, from deciding what bills will come to a vote, to bringing home new funding for projects in their district. Gannett’s Greg Hilburn explains which regions of the state have the most clout at the Capitol.

Acadiana, with Lafayette as the hub, and the Capital area, with Baton Rouge as the hub, dominate the Legislature for the next four years, while the Bayou region with Houma as its anchor will punch above its weight. New Orleans, the state’s signature city, is as light on legislative leverage as perhaps it’s ever been, although as a region its clout is less sparse. Northeastern Louisiana, northwestern Louisiana and central Louisiana are virtual deserts of legislative power.


Educator pay in the spotlight
Louisiana’s public school teachers and college professors continue to be paid less than their peers in other states. And although the budget proposed last week by Gov. John Bel Edwards would prioritize new investments in education, it would do little or nothing to address those pay disparities. That was one of the takeaways from a five-hour hearing on Monday when the members of the House and Senate education committees got their first chance to question Louisiana’s education leaders. The Advocate’s Will Sentell was there: 

One of the recurring themes of higher education leaders Monday was the need for dollars to boost faculty pay, which was not included in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ $32 billion operating budget proposal outlined on Friday. (Higher Education Commissioner Kim Hunter) Reed said that, when she hears from college and university officials, “faculty pay is always at the top of the list” of needs. She said it would cost the state $36 million to boost average pay to the 16-state average set by the Southern Regional Education Board.


Number of the Day
$844 billion – Reductions in funding for Medicare and Medicaid proposed in President Donald Trump’s budget. (Source: Axios)