Pushing back against tax cut bills

Pushing back against tax cut bills

The Louisiana Senate on Monday continued to walk back proposals by state GOP leaders and business interests to cut state revenue by expanding tax credits, rebates and incentive programs for businesses. While some lawmakers, like Finance Committee Chair Brett Allain, only want to scale down the tax breaks, others are more cautious about their cumulative effect on the state’s finances. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte

Several proposed tax measures represented a sizable hit to the state’s tax collections, but many of those have been shelved or greatly scaled back. Some lawmakers say the measures still would take too much money away from the treasury and could force spending cuts on public safety, education programs and health care. “We keep saying the fiscal note’s just a few million here and a few million there,” said Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat. “They’re adding up.” 

The Senate Finance Committee plans to release its version of the state’s $34 billion operating budget budget on Wednesday, including proposals for cuts to pay for the business tax breaks that are most likely to pass. 


The Illuminator is here
For more than a decade, Jarvis DeBerry was an indispensable voice of reason and compassion in Louisiana’s political dialogue from his perch as a Times-Picayune columnist and deputy editorial page editor. Today he is launching the Louisiana Illuminator, the latest offshoot of the North Carolina-based States Newsroom that is providing news and perspectives about state governments around the country. DeBerry writes that the site will focus on people and issues that too often get overlooked: 

My intent is to use this space to give special attention to Louisianians who are poor, marginalized, overlooked or disregarded. And not just overlooked or disregarded by state officials but just as often overlooked by journalists, too. With 18.6 percent of its residents and 26 percent of its children living below the poverty threshold in 2018, Louisiana ranked third worst in poverty and child poverty. But as the Rev. William Barber said in a January 2019 address at Tulane University, the official poverty numbers are hardly informative. Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, estimated that half of Louisiana’s 4.7 million residents were struggling financially. But, he said, “I bet you haven’t had a person run for office talk about the poor.”


Medicaid and the federal stimulus payments
An estimated 12 million people in America are eligible for federal economic stimulus payments that they have not yet received because their incomes are so low that they don’t have to file a federal tax return. To reach these people, states could use information and communications tools from the Medicaid program. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outlines different ways that state and local agencies can help with outreach: 

State and local Medicaid agencies can use their regular contacts with enrollees by phone, in person, and in writing to inform them about the (Economic Impact Payments), refer them to the Non-Filer website or free tax preparation services for assistance, and help them complete the necessary forms. Though health and human service agencies are experiencing high demand for their services due to the pandemic, they have relatively low-cost ways to help enrollees get their EIPs. Agencies can add messages to their websites and online portals, include fliers on the EIPs with regular mailings, send informational texts and emails, add recorded messages for callers waiting on hold for call centers, and incorporate information into scripts for caseworkers who speak directly with clients. 


How to restart a police department
In 2012, Camden, N.J., a town with a population of 77,000, was ranked the most violent city in the nation. The next year the city shut down its police department and started from scratch. And it worked, as homicides in 2019 were down 63%. J. Scott Thomson, Camden’s police chief from 2008-2019, writing in a guest column for the Washington Post, explains how building trust in the communities they served was crucial for officers to make this astonishing transformation. 

Instead of a patrol division solely focused on responding to calls, every cop became a community officer: It was understood that their job responsibilities also included building relationships. New officers were required to knock on doors and introduce themselves to residents. How could we address people’s concerns if we didn’t first know what they were? An officer who spent three to four hours at headquarters processing a meaningless offense wasn’t advancing safety or trust. But an officer who is visible and approachable — one who eschews polarizing tactics — significantly alters the chemistry of that environment for the better and creates the peace dividend police desperately need today.

Number of the Day
28.7 – Percent of Louisianans who experienced housing insecurity from June 4 – June 9. Housing insecurity is defined as the percentage of adults who missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or who have slight or no confidence that their household can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)