Quality Jobs*

Quality Jobs*

Few would dispute that being an NBA player is a quality job: the wages are good and workers, protected by a strong professional union, enjoy excellent health and retirement benefits. But Louisiana’s decision to subsidize the New Orleans Pelicans payroll to the tune of $3.65 million a year under the state’s Quality Jobs program has drawn new attention to what, if anything, the state gets in return for a program that costs roughly $30,500 for every job it claims to create. The Illuminator’s Wesley Muller reports on how some lawmakers are growing skeptical of the costly incentive.

State Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, said that Louisiana is giving more money to those 123 companies than to the state’s community colleges, where people could learn new job skills. “Instead of just giving money to a company, we could invest in our people,” Ivey said. “That’s what’s weird — we don’t invest in our people. We invest in companies, but we don’t invest in our people. We need to elevate our people.”

A report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor found that most of the household income associated with the Quality Jobs program would likely have existed even without the incentive. The Louisiana Tax Institute will take up the audit this morning.

The systemic racism in mortgage underwriting
In 1960, it was legal for lenders and sellers to racially discriminate against potential homebuyers of color. Today, the Fair Housing Act protects homebuyers against racial discrimination. But despite those protections, the 30 percentage point gap in homeownership between Black and white Americans is higher today than it was before that landmark civil rights legislation took effect. The Urban Institute’s Liam Reynolds, Vanessa Perry and Jung Hyun Choi explain how the long history of racial discrimination in the housing market continues to play out through facially neutral policies that keep systemic racism in mortgage underwriting.  

Applicants of color experience higher mortgage denial rates than white applicants, which helps sustain the gap. […. R]acial disparities pervade the credit indicators that drive lending outcomes. The three Cs that determine mortgage access—credit, collateral, and capacity—reflect the results of a long history of racial discrimination in US public and private institutions. Thus, relying on these lending criteria reinforces disparities that discrimination created, though the metrics don’t explicitly include race.

When it costs $53,000 to vote
In 2018, after years of dedicated advocacy by formerly incarcerated people and their allies, two-thirds of Florida voters opted to restore voting rights to people who had completed their sentence for a felony conviction. Within a year, Florida’s conservative legislature found a way around voters’ wishes, writing a new requirement that people looking to vote under the new amendment first have to fully pay any financial obligations connected to their case. The New York Times’s Damon Winter and Jesse Wegman tell the stories of people whose unpayable—and often uncountable—debt continues to deprive them of their right to vote.

The state adds insult to injury by making it difficult, if not impossible, for many of these people, like [Judy] Bolden, to figure out what they owe. There is no central database with those numbers, and counties vary in their record-keeping diligence. Some convictions are so old that there are no records to be located. […. The group of Floridians denied their right to vote] includes Marq Mitchell, 30, who owed, as best as he can tell, $7,331.89 stemming from convictions back to when he was 16 years old. He wasn’t aware of the debt until he tried to register to vote and received a notice from the county’s clerk of court. “I have no idea what I have to pay,” he said. “I just know every time I reach out, it’s a different number, and it’s increasing.”

Monuments to hate
Opponents of efforts to take down Confederate monuments often claim that they honor history, not hatred. But according to researchers at the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, incidents of white supremacist lynchings are strongly associated with the number of Confederate monuments erected in a given county or parish. The Washington Post’s Gillian Brockell connects the dots: 

The team compared county-level data on lynchings between 1832 and 1950 with data on Confederate memorials. They found that in any given area, and even controlling for population and other demographic variables, the number of lynchings was a “significant predictor” of the number of memorials. [….] “We can’t pinpoint exactly the cause and effect. But the association is clearly there,” [U-Va. Professor Sophie] Trawalter said. “At a minimum, the data suggests that localities with attitudes and intentions that led to lynchings also had attitudes and intentions associated with the construction of Confederate memorials.”

Number of the Day
5% – Average increase in Louisiana teacher salaries over the past 10 years—the 4th lowest increase in the country. (Source: Wallet Hub via the Monroe News-Star)