Removing local input on ITEP

Removing local input on ITEP

Last fall Louisiana voters decisively rejected a constitutional amendment that would have made it easy for large manufacturing corporations to secure sweetheart tax breaks from local governments. Now Louisiana lawmakers are trying again to make life easier for the petrochemical industry. State Rep. Phillp Devillier has filed House Bill 318, which would take away the ability of local governments (and the governor) to decide whether to grant lucrative property tax exemptions to manufacturers. Wesley Muller of the LA Illuminator has more

Edgar Cage with Together Louisiana, a nonprofit grassroots organization that opposes corporate tax exemptions that divert funding from education, said DeVillier’s bill is dishonest. “HB 318 is a really underhanded bill,” Cage said. “The ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing. It pretends to be a reform bill. But what it really would do is to strip local communities of the ability to control the most expensive corporate welfare program in the nation, which is costing Louisiana schools and local services about $1.5 billion every year.” DeVillier may propose the bill at a later date.

College is part of the racial wealth gap 
America has a growing racial wealth gap between whites and Blacks. While college education has long been seen as a solution to this disparity, the high cost of college — and the high level of student debt that low-income students have to take on to obtain a degree — combine with discrimination in the labor market to make that gap worse. Emory University tax professor Dorthoy Brown explains in the Washington Post why taking on student debt doesn’t give Black graduates the same advantages as their white peers. 

When a Black student, through herculean efforts, actually obtains a college degree, he or she faces a racist labor market that makes it harder to pay down debt and build wealth. A 2014 study showed that a Black Harvard graduate had to send out eight résumés before getting an interview offer, while a White one had to send out only six. As the selectivity decreased, the disparity increased: For example, with a University of Massachusetts at Amherst degree, White graduates submitted nine résumés before getting an interview offer, while Black graduates had to send out 15. This suggests that, while the credential makes a huge difference for a Black applicant, White students can afford to go to less-prestigious (and generally less-expensive) institutions and receive roughly similar rewards from the labor market. Worse, that same study showed that Black applicants — but not the White ones — were asked to interview for lower-paying jobs than those they applied to.

Invest in America’s historical infrastructure 
In the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project set writers like Claude McKay, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison to work preserving the nation’s living memory through oral histories and other projects that captured how Americans lived, loved and persevered. Now, as President Joe Biden proposes an aggressive and far-reaching plan to invest in America’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure, The Atlantic’s Clint Smith argues that this moment also offers an opportunity for America to invest in preserving our own history again: 

The country has an opportunity now to conduct a new Federal Writers’ Project, a national effort to build on existing oral-history programs and to collect, in a central place, the stories of Americans who have lived through some of the United States’ most consequential, most shameful, and most astounding historical periods—times that have much to teach us about who we have been and how different groups have navigated the American experience. We have, for example, the chance to collect the histories of those who lived through Jim Crow and were, by law, second-class citizens in a supposed democracy. But this opportunity is fleeting. We are losing, at an increasing frequency, giants of the civil-rights movement. John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Leah Chase, C. T. Vivian, Meredith C. Anding, Lucille Bridges, Charles Evers, Joseph Lowery, James Netters, and Vernon Jordan have all died just in the past two years

Pushing back on “universal basic income”
Andrew Yang, the current front-runner to be New York City’s next mayor, made his reputation as a technology-driven policy wonk with a central idea: that millions of workers will soon be displaced by technological change and that the answer is to provide every American adult with $1,000 a month of “universal basic income.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes that Yang’s proposal doesn’t add up: 

It’s both too expensive to be sustainable without a very large tax increase and inadequate for Americans who really need help. I’ve done the math. … The point is that for now, at least, the best way to provide an adequate safety net is to make aid conditional. We can and should provide generous aid to the unemployed; we can and should provide aid to families with children. But sending checks to everyone, every month, is just too poorly focused on the real problems.

Number of the Day
$7.6 billion – The amount that substandard transportation systems are costing Louisiana motorists. (Source: The Advocate)