Reconnecting Louisiana’s Opportunity Youth

Reconnecting Louisiana’s Opportunity Youth

About 1 in 6 young people in Louisiana, ages 16 to 24, are neither in school nor employed. This population, known as Opportunity Youth, are more likely to live in poverty than their peers and often lack the education, experiences, or resources needed to find stable, sustainable employment. A new report by the Louisiana Budget Project’s Jackson Voss identifies many of the programs and funds that may be used for and by Opportunity Youth in Louisiana, and provides detailed analysis of how a few programs funded by the federal government but administered by state government can be better leveraged on behalf of Opportunity Youth.

“Our social safety net, workforce, and education programs fail many young people and their families,” said Jackson Voss, economic opportunity analyst for LBP and author of the report. “But through fairly simple reforms to broaden eligibility and ease access, increased public investment, and a new political commitment to ensuring that the most vulnerable among us – including Opportunity Youth – are cared for in their times of need, the status quo that disconnects so many young people from opportunity can be overturned. We simply have to decide to do it.” 

Online sports betting expansion 
The frantic competition for Louisiana sports betting customers has prompted some online sportsbooks to expand their offerings. The Baton Rouge Business Report scoops that Caesars and FanDuel will soon be taking bets on the outcome of bills working their way through the Louisiana Legislature. For example, online bettors will soon be able to wager on whether Gov. John Bel Edwards will get $500 million set aside for a new toll bridge, or whether lawmakers will finally establish a state minimum wage.  

“Politics has long been considered a sport in Louisiana, so this was a logical next step for us,” Caesars spokesman JB Smoove said. “Besides, it wasn’t that big a stretch. After LSU agreed to let us become their official sportsbook, we realized that literally everything in the state is for sale.” The wagering expansion could be good news for early care and education programs, which get a 25% cut of the revenue generated up to a $20 million cap. 

The rent is (still) too damn high
Long before inflation started to soar, the cost of buying or renting a home was rising faster than wages and incomes – especially in large, fast-growing urban areas. One reason for these cost increases is because Wall Street-backed investors have been buying up single-family homes and offering them for rent, often focusing on predominantly Black neighborhoods. The Washington Post’s Peter Whoriskey and Kevin Schaul visited a suburb of Charlotte, NC, to understand the problem. 

In Charlotte and elsewhere, according to The Post’s analysis, investors have purchased a disproportionate number of homes in neighborhoods where a majority of residents are Black. Last year, 30 percent of home sales in majority Black neighborhoods across the nation were to investors, compared with 12 percent in other Zip codes, The Post’s analysis shows. … Faced with this surge of corporate landlords, many homeowners associations have begun to fight back. At the Reserve at Back Creek, a subdivision of 39 houses near UNC-Charlotte, neighbors last year adopted a rule requiring an owner to live in a house for a year before renting it out. No more than 18 percent of the houses can be approved for rental at any time.

Federal court will decide congressional lines
Civil rights groups didn’t wait long before filing suit this week to challenge Louisiana’s new congressional maps, which became law when the state Legislature voted to override a veto by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The Advocate’s Blake Paterson looks at similar lawsuits from other states and predicts that the federal suit might not be resolved in time for the November midterm elections.

Take what happened in Alabama: a three-judge panel there ruled in January that the state’s congressional map likely violated the Voting Rights Act for failing to include a second majority-Black district. Black people make up 27 percent of Alabama’s population, but under the map passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature have control over just 14 percent – or one of seven – of the state’s congressional districts. The district court ordered Alabama to draw a new map before the 2022 election. However, in February, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority stayed the lower court’s order, saying it came too close to the start of absentee voting in Alabama’s primary election. The court agreed to hear the Alabama case on its merits in its next term, and in the interim, it ordered Alabama to conduct its congressional elections with the existing map.

Number of the Day
$78,081 –
Amount the Louisiana Legislature has paid, so far, to an out-of-state law firm providing advice on redistricting. That figure is likely to grow as the issue heads to federal court (Source: Louisiana Illuminator)