Paid sick leave – now more than ever

Paid sick leave – now more than ever

Nearly half of Louisiana’s workers (45%) do not have access to paid leave when they get sick. The numbers are much higher for workers who cook our restaurant food and care for our elderly. Tulane’s Phyllis Raabe and Katherine Theall, writing in The Advocate, think Louisiana should follow the lead of states that have moved to address this shameful imbalance:

Since many employers do not provide paid sick leave, and the spread of disease impairs individuals, families, workplaces, and communities — and increases health care costs — eleven states and the District of Columbia have enacted policies that enable workers to accrue paid sick days. In Louisiana, a paid sick leave bill was introduced in the Senate (Senate Bill 81, 2015). This or the laws in other states could be the basis for passing a paid sick days policy — needed to help prevent the spread of illness in Louisiana now and in the future.


No relief from wage checks
Despite the public health emergency posed by the new coronavirus outbreak, Louisiana’s health department has no plans to stop kicking people off the state’s Medicaid rolls if a new electronic eligibility system identifies them as earning too much money to qualify. So said interim Secretary of Health Stephen Russo to the Advocate’s Sam Karlin, who reports that Louisiana expects to receive about $8 million in new short-term funding from an $8 billion relief package that passed Congress this week.  

Russo (…) said the Health Department has not considered delaying the removal of Medicaid recipients from the program, set for this month under the state’s stricter wage verification system that has been in place for about a year.


Europe is not the problem
Tests for the coronavirus exist—other countries have made use of them throughout the outbreak—but the United States continues to face a testing shortage, limiting our country’s ability to keep a growing public health crisis under control. As Vox’s Brian Resnick and Dylan Scott explain to The New York Times David Leonhardt, while President Trump lays the blame for America’s expanding pandemic at Europe’s door, the lack of preparation and execution by the federal government are at the root of the problem our nation faces.

When one person gets a confirmed diagnosis, they can be put in isolation where they won’t spread the disease further. Then their contacts can be identified and put into quarantine — so that they don’t spread the virus if they’ve become infected, too. That’s particularly important for a virus like this one, which seems able to spread before people show symptoms, or when their symptoms are mild.”


A flat tax would flatten Georgia’s poor
Georgia’s General Assembly is weighing a bill that would replace the state’s current graduated tax system with a flat income tax rate of 5.375 percent. Such a drastic tax change would harm hundreds of thousands of families that earn less than $108,000 a year, whose taxes would rise while millionaires get a break and the state’s budget would be starved of revenue. Danny Kanso with Georgia Budget and Policy Institute has lessons that Louisiana’s legislature should heed when the next fiscal session rolls around in 2021. 

If enacted, the only Georgians who will see an average annual tax cut greater than $13 are those earning more than $108,000 per year, or those in the top 20 percent of earners. The largest share of net tax savings, 42 percent, will be shared by filers making more than $572,000 per year; the top 1 percent of income earners will, on average, benefit from a net tax cut of nearly $4,000 per year. Meanwhile, Georgians in the middle class—those earning between $38,000 to $108,000 per year—will pay an average of $5 more per year in taxes.


Number of the Day
6.2% – The effective tax rate of the top 1% of earners in Louisiana. The state’s middle 20% of income earners have an effective tax rate of 10%. (Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy via  The Franklin Sun)