Louisiana is staring at an $800 million fiscal cliff in 2025, when a $0.45 cent increase to the state sales tax expires and the state starts diverting sales tax revenue from new car sales from the state’s general fund, which pays for things like higher education and health care, to transportation projects. Federal recovery money from Covid-19 will also be gone by this time. Despite all this, Rep. Richard Nelson is proposing to blow an even bigger hole in the budget by eliminating nearly $5 billion that Louisiana collects each year through personal income taxes. As the inimitable Jim Beam explains, this outdated idea shouldn’t be taken seriously.
[Rep. Richard] Nelson and others like to talk about how Texas is doing so much better than Louisiana because it doesn’t have an income tax. However, there are other major reasons why Texas can do without the income tax. If we want to be like Texas, we need a better educated workforce and better roads and bridges. Both would give the state a better pro-business climate. Doing away with the income tax in 2023 isn’t going to happen because it’s an election year. And it’s not the main reason for our economic development problems.
Child care teachers need support
A family’s access to quality, affordable child care plays a huge role in a child’s future, as 90% of brain development occurs during the first four years of life. But the teachers responsible for the state’s youngest learners are suffering from low pay, high turnover and rising rates of depression. Officials representing the child care workforce testified on these debilitating factors at the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports:
Child care teachers are paid an average of $19,785 per year and most get no health or retirement benefits, according to the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission. “Even the most experienced teachers in early care and education centers earn less than the federal poverty level for a family of three,” according to the report. In addition, 40% of those teachers leave the profession yearly and 27% say they work a second job. “These are certainly grim statistics,” said Karen Powell, deputy assistant superintendent for early childhood care and education, who led much of the discussion.
Louisiana’s vehicle charging plan approved
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act set aside $5 billion to help build a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the nation’s major highways. States had to submit plans to the federal government by early August explaining how they would install the chargers. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Louisiana will receive $73,367,735 to install 394 charging stations throughout the state. BRProud’s Allison Bruhl reports:
In its deployment plan, LADOTD said funds from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program will cover up to 80% of expenses with a minimum of 20% non-federal match covered by grant recipients. LADOTD said the state can reach its carbon emission reduction goals by making charging stations accessible to “drivers and passengers across income levels.” Louisiana’s electric vehicle plan states it will meet the Federal Highway Administration’s requirements of having charging stations 50 miles apart and within one mile of interstate exits or highway intersections along the corridor.
A win for environmental justice
Activists in St. James Parish, most of them Black, have fought a lengthy battle against a $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics plant planned for their community. On Wednesday, a state judge vacated state air permits for the Taiwanese company after she found that the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, which has a shoddy record of regulating pollution, should not have granted permits to the facility, and in the process, violated the constitutional rights of petitioners. WWNO’s Halle Parker reports:
The groups cheered White’s ruling Wednesday, calling it the end of “business as usual” in a region where the state has permitted the construction of more than 150 industrial plants along the Mississippi River, stretching from Baton Rouge to south of New Orleans. Sharon Lavigne, president of Rise St. James and a local resident, said, “Stopping Formosa Plastics has been a fight for our lives, and today David has toppled Goliath. The judge’s decision sends a message to polluters like Formosa that communities of color have a right to clean air, and we must not be sacrifice zones.”
Number of the Day
6 – Louisiana’s rank among U.S. states with the most power outages caused
by hurricanes and other severe weather. Climate change is increasing the
frequency and intensity of storms. (Source: Climate Central)