Invest in Louisiana’s children

Invest in Louisiana’s children

Louisiana has an historic opportunity to invest in our children as more than $4 billion in federal relief flows into the state over the next few years through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These investments are necessary to help families make ends meet as our state has the second-highest child poverty rate in the nation with about 280,000 kids living in poverty, including 140,000 living in deep poverty. A new policy brief by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, LBP and others examines how ARPA dollars can be maximized to benefit our youngest residents:

The impact of family poverty is profound, decreasing the likelihood that children graduate from high school, increasing the likelihood of incarceration, and stunting upward economic mobility. (…) It is critical that policymakers use this historic funding opportunity to move the needle to improve outcomes for young children across the state, as Louisiana currently ranks 48th in the country for child well-being according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Addressing the root cause of natural disasters
As the state continues to recover from increasingly severe and frequent storms that have uprooted the lives and (already) shaky economic well-being of hundreds of thousands of families, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he is joining the Race to Zero Campaign. The international alliance has a shared goal of addressing climate change by reducing global net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The Associated Press quotes Edwards on why this is important: 

“No state in our country is more adversely impacted by climate change than Louisiana – in just the last year alone we’ve experienced major hurricanes, flash flooding and a severe winter storm. But at the same time, no state is better positioned to be a leader in reducing carbon emissions and bolstering coastal resiliency,” (Governor) Edwards said in a statement. “Extreme heat, devastating storms, flooding and other harmful impacts to human health and financial well-being are putting our state to the test. If humanity does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, these conditions will only worsen and adaptation will become even more difficult,” Edwards said. 

Fair taxation centers the needs of all people 
Louisiana has the 14th most unfair tax system in the country where those with the least are required to pay the highest share of their income in state and local taxes. As lawmakers debate the Build Back Better plan, it is imperative that we ask everyone to pay their fair share, including the wealthy. In a letter to the editor of The Advocate, Jack Alltmont of New Orleans pushes back on the argument that it is “unfair to raise taxes on the wealthy” and calls for measuring fair taxation by the benefits afforded to society:

Taxes are the price we pay for a civil society. Taxes pay for our national defense, our roads, bridges, levees, hospitals, schools, national and local parks, museums, courts, laws and regulations that protect against contaminated food, water, dangerous drugs and pollution. Taxes fight fires and pandemics and help us recover from hurricanes. In short, taxes provide the physical and social infrastructure that facilitates American life and the opportunity to prosper and accumulate wealth. 

HBCUs should be a top priority, not a political football
Louisiana is home to six historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that have served the needs of tens of thousands of underserved minority students despite decades of disinvestment. HBCUs have a unique place in our nation’s history, but too many of these institutions are struggling. Federal dollars in the American Rescue Plan Act helped address some of the most pressing needs of the pandemic, including canceling some student debt and technology upgrades. But long-overdue investments in infrastructure are potentially on the chopping block as lawmakers decide how to scale back the Build Back Better plan to meet the demands of centrists. Piper Hudspeth Blackburn and Annie Ma of The Associated Press outline what’s at stake:

Because of historical underfunding, Black colleges often have built up years of deferred maintenance, leaving buildings out of compliance with local codes or otherwise unable to accommodate students. Money from endowment returns is directed to annual operating costs, making it harder to invest in new programs and buildings—a “number one issue” for attracting students, (President of Simmons College of Kentucky, Kevin) Cosby said. (…) “We need facility space, we need infrastructure, we need capital improvements, we need resources to hire teachers,” he said. “We can only thrive as institutions to the degree that we have the resources.”

LBP Didja Know? 10-7-21: Louisiana’s children need a permanent Child Tax Credit expansion
In the latest edition of LBP’s podcast, director of safety net policy Danny Mintz explains why Louisiana’s children need a permanent Child Tax Credit expansion and why Congress shouldn’t put barriers in place – like an earnings requirement –  that would cut kids off from aid. Click here to listen. 

Number of the Day
249,670 – Number of children estimated to be facing hunger in Louisiana. (Source: Feeding America)