Accountability is not justice

Accountability is not justice

A Minneapolis jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on three counts in the murder of George Floyd. But Will Sutton of the The Times-Picayune | The Baton Rouge Advocate hesitates to call this justice. Justice would be a world where Black and Brown people do not die disproportionately at the hands of police. Justice would be a world where George Floyd was alive today. 

There were important changes after the (Rodney) King trial. There can be important changes now. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would change the “qualified immunity” that allows police officers claim “I was doing my job” and make it easier to charge police misconduct when we see it. The measure would ban chokeholds, some no-knock warrants. It would require data involving police encounters. The act would make it wrong to profile based on race and religion. The measure passed narrowly in the U.S. House. The Democrats need some Republican Senate help to get these changes enacted. I’ve got to believe Floyd’s death, the trial and the verdict help some good people know what’s right. For all of us.

Bill to gut state revenue advances
Legislation that would drastically shift how Louisiana collects local and state tax revenue to fund priorities like K-12 education cleared the Ways and Means committee on Tuesday. Rep. Richard Nelson’s bills would eliminate both the individual and corporate income tax, lower the homestead exemption, raise the state sales tax rate and get rid of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program, among other things. The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges was there:  

“The overarching theme is to give locals the ability to control their own destiny, to decide how much to spend and how to raise it rather than going to beg to Baton Rouge,” Nelson said in an interview. “This is a conceptual idea. I’m just trying to drive the conversation.” Under his plan, state spending on education – under what is known as the Minimum Foundation Program – would drop by one-third. Local governments could make up the spending.

One bright note: Not even Nelson expects the bill to actually make its way through the Legislature and onto a statewide ballot. 

The SALT cap benefits wealthy, white households
The SALT deduction, which allows households to deduct their state taxes paid from their federal taxable income, primarily benefits higher income and white households who use it to cut the amount they owe in federal taxes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped this deduction, only allowing tax filers to deduct $10,000 in state taxes until 2025 – a jab at “blue state” filers, but also one of the few sensible measures in that legislation. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators are working to repeal the cap sooner. Carl Davis and Jessica Shieder of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy explain why the SALT cap repeal should not be a priority: 

Many of the tax reforms being considered by Congress could enhance racial equity—such as raising taxes on investment income, reforming the corporate income tax, and making recent enhancements to the Child Tax Credit permanent. More than two-thirds (or $67 billion in 2022) of the tax cuts under SALT cap repeal, on the other hand, would flow to white taxpayers earning over $200,000 per year—a group that accounts for less than 7 percent of all families nationwide. This outcome would therefore worsen both economic and racial inequality. With this in mind, it is difficult to imagine why SALT cap repeal should be a priority for the current Congress.

Healthy school meals for all
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended universal free lunch for public school students through the 2021-2022 school year, bringing continued security and flexibility to school districts and food insecure families as they recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. This extension is a major step toward equity and freedom from stigma in the school cafeteria. Legislation from Congress would be needed to make this important change permanent. Laura Reiley of the Washington Post has more

Child nutrition program waivers, which aimed to cut through red tape to allow kids to eat free even outside normal meal times, were implemented at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, at a time when millions of families faced financial strain, hunger and hardship. The waivers allowed schools and community organizations to adapt programs to better meet the needs of children and families. The waivers allowed all children to eat free and outside of the traditional group settings and mealtimes. They also allowed parents to do curbside pickup of multiple days of food at once for students learning from home, even without the children’s presence, and in many cases for meals to be dropped off at a student’s home if they continue to learn virtually part- or full-time.

Number of the Day
40% –
The percent of uninsured Louisianans who are eligible for Medicaid or another form of public health insurance. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)