Businesses and cities compete for relief

Businesses and cities compete for relief

With the annual debate over the state budget being pushed to next month’s special session, the biggest financial dispute for lawmakers to resolve this weekend involves $811 million in federal relief funding that Gov. John Bel Edwards has earmarked for local governments. Conservatives in the Legislature have carved out $300 million for a new program to aid small businesses.. The Advocate’s Sam Karlin explains:

The governor said the state should wait before sending a large chunk of the money to businesses, even if it’s unclear local governments will be able to use it all. He argued businesses might be better-served by putting more funding into the unemployment trust fund, to help businesses avoid a mandatory tax increase if the trust fund dips too low. And he noted Congress could revise the law to allow local governments to tap the funds for lost revenue. If the state had already sent the money to business, those locals could be left out to dry, he said. “I just don’t think now is the right time to do that and i want to abide by the spirit of the CARES act legislation as expressed by the congressional delegation,” Edwards said.

 

Food assistance for Louisiana’s children
Covid-19 has increased food insecurity particularly for households with children. But Louisiana families with children can receive a one-time payment for food assistance through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, better known as P-EBT. This program works just like SNAP benefits. Chalres Lussier of Nola.com | The Advocate has more on how Louisiana plans to get this aid into the hands of families: 

The new benefit is part of a wave of federal relief efforts approved by the U.S. Congress to soften the economic blow of the temporary shutdown of much of the nation’s economy to arrest the spread of the deadly virus. Louisiana stands to receive as much as $174 million in additional food aid through the new program. Louisiana is one of 37 states, along with the District of Columbia, approved for P-EBT. Louisiana did not gain federal approval until May 14. Some states moved much more quickly. Michigan was the fastest out the gate, issuing payments as early as April 17, reaching about a million children so far.

 

Race and rage in Minneapolis
The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers has sparked protests around the country, and police departments in Louisiana and elsewhere are condemning the actions that led to Floyd’s death. Nola.com | The Advocate columnist Will Sutton writes that the incident provides more evidence that the New Orleans Police Department needs to be investigated. 

As a black man in America, I can’t imagine why these things keep happening. As the father of a black man in America, I worry that something simple could mean serious injury to or the death of my 25-year-old son. As the grandfather of a six-month-old boy, I shouldn’t have to worry about what life might be like for him. I don’t want police or white women to ignore serious criminal acts or violence. But I don’t want them to feel holier-than and crush black men to death or insult them with lies with the expectation that others will hurt them. … Keep filming, folks. Keep standing up when things are going down wrong. Some things actually get sorted out for the better later.

 

The pandemic’s unequal effects
Chekesha Sydnor-­Jones and her family were finally starting to get a footing in society. Then, almost overnight, her household went from five adults working full-time to just one. Her family, like many American families, were barely making it before Covid-19. Now, as the New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones reports, Sydnor-­Jones and her family are facing an economic catastrophe:

For black Americans, whose unemployment rate was double that of white Americans before the pandemic, ­Covid-19 is particularly disastrous. While white unemployment has risen to 14.2 percent, black unemployment has grown to 16.7 percent, according to April data from the Bureau for Labor Statistics, and experts think the black unemployment rate is most likely severely undercounted. Heidi Shierholz, policy director of the Economic Policy Institute who served as the chief economist to the labor secretary under President Barack Obama, told The Washington Post that she expected unemployment among black people to soar to an almost incomprehensible 30 percent, the worst of all racial groups. ‘‘It will be an absolute nightmare,’’ she said

 

Number of the Day
62 percent – The proportion of eligible children in Louisiana who have applied to receive preloaded “P-EBT” debit cards for food assistance. About 230,000 eligible children have not yet applied for benefits, potentially leaving $70 million in food assistance unclaimed during an unprecedented crisis. (Source: The Advocate | Times-Picayune)