Coronavirus brings attention to paid sick leave

Coronavirus brings attention to paid sick leave

The coronavirus outbreak is bringing new attention to America’s shameful lack of a national paid leave program. As politicians and health experts urge people to stay home if they experience flu symptoms, millions of workers face the loss of a paycheck because America does not require employers to give workers paid leave when they become ill. The New York Times’ Clair Cain Miller explains a new report that shows how a paid sick leave policy benefits employees while having minimal effects on employers. 

On average, employees in states that passed sick leave took two more sick days a year, or 16 hours of sick time. Eight in 10 employers offered it after the laws took effect, an increase of 20 percent (some did not comply with the law.) The average cost to employers that started offering it was 20 cents per hour worked. The study, published as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, also found that paid sick leave laws didn’t reduce employment or wage growth, and didn’t have unintended consequences of reducing other benefits, like vacation time or disability pay.

In New Orleans, hospitality workers demanding paid sick leave interrupted New Orleans Mayor Latoyoa Cantrell’s briefing on the coronavirus on Monday, pointing out that workers with coronavirus could show up to work because of the fear of losing a paycheck, putting others at risk. But Louisiana state law prohibits cities like New Orleans from mandating paid leave policies for their businesses. In two recent LBP reports, Stacey Roussel goes over the options for a state paid leave plan, and Taly Bialistocki takes a deep dive on what paid leave could look like in our state.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Louisiana’s first confirmed case of coronavirus on Monday. Click here for updates and FAQs.


Oil price drop could affect state budget
Louisiana does not have an official revenue forecast for the upcoming year because of political posturing at the Revenue Estimating Conference. Now, however, a drastic drop in global oil prices may make it more difficult to forecast how much money the state will have to spend this year. Louisiana loses about $13 million in tax revenue for every $1 drop in the price of a barrel of oil. The Baton Rouge Business Report’s Julia Arenstam gets the thoughts of leaders in the oil industry. 

“It’s scary; the fact that they’re dropping so quickly, especially with the commodity prices it just shows business is volatile,” [Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association  President Tyler] Gray says. Yet, there’s some concern prices could drop as low as $20, [Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Gifford] Briggs says, bringing with it a possible $150 million budget impact. “That’s not at all where industry would like it to be, and certainly not where Louisiana would like to be,” he says.


Earned Income Tax Credit crucial for struggling families
Louisiana’s Earned Income Tax Credit reduces child poverty and improves birth outcomes and infant health by giving a boost to low-income working families with children at tax time. It also helps to balance the state’s regressive tax code, which asks poor families to pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than wealthy families do. But as Samantha Waxman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, there’s more that state legislators can do to build on the well-documented, long-term benefits of the EITC, including increasing the state’s credit and extending it to workers without children in their homes. 

The federal EITC largely leaves out workers not raising children in their home, even though they’re integral to their communities and local economies — and many are non-custodial parents or future parents. That’s a big reason why these workers are the lone group that the federal tax code pushes into, or deeper into, poverty. Several New Jersey proposals would increase the state’s EITC for workers not raising children in the home and lower the EITC eligibility age for these workers (currently 25). Also, (a) New Mexico bill (…) would extend eligibility for the state’s EITC to young workers aged 18 to 24 without children in the home.


New proposal looks to cap commercial provider prices
The United States spends more money on health care than any other country and gets poor outcomes in return. Brookings’ Michael Chernew, Leemore Dafny and Maximilian Pany have a proposal on how to cap provider prices and price growth in the commercial health-care market. 

They recommend a three-pronged approach that includes (1) market- and service-specific price caps that apply directly to only the very top of the commercial price distribution; (2) service-, insurer-, and provider-specific price growth caps that constrain price inflation; and (3) flexible oversight by state or federal authorities to address potential evasion.


Children’s Day at the Capitol
From 10 am – 3 pm, lawmakers and advocates will be celebrating and discussing children’s issues at the Capitol. The Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families will host a lunch and rally in the governor’s press room on the 4th floor of the Capitol Building, from 11:30 – 1:30, and attendees will meet with legislators from 1:30 – 3:00.


Number of the Day
48,000 – Number of Louisiana workers in the oil & gas sector in December 2019, down from 93,000 at the most recent peak in 2012 (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis via The Advocate)