The temporary expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit led to the largest reduction in child poverty in American history last year. Parents in Louisiana were eligible for payments of $3,000 – $3,600 per child, even if they did not work or if they earned very little income. But thousands of eligible parents have yet to claim the credit – even though there is still time. As Lorie Konish of CNBC reports, parents who file their 2021 returns before Nov. 15 can use a simplified tool – GetCTC.org – developed by the nonprofit Code for America to access these and other tax benefits.
“The money is there; the money is yours,” said Gabriel Zucker, associate policy director for tax benefits at Code for America, a charitable organization that provides the tool. … That message applies to parents with little to no income, who consequently do not typically have tax-filing obligations. This year, however, those non-filers have an added incentive to submit their information to the government: enhanced tax credits that were temporarily enacted through the American Rescue Plan legislation in 2021. Those include the child tax credit and the third stimulus check.
The Louisiana Budget Project is partnering with The Middleburg Institute in an effort to raise awareness about tax credits for working families. You are invited to join us tomorrow – Oct. 11 – at the Carver Branch Library in Baton Rouge (720 Terrace Ave) from 5:30 p.m.- 7: 30 p.m. to learn more about the Child Tax Credit and other benefits. Click here to register, and please help us spread the word.
A tale of two grids
Louisiana and Florida shared similar, harrowing experiences roughly 13 months apart – a massive category 4 hurricane that wrecked havoc and left millions of people without power. But the power restoration has moved much more quickly in the Sunshine State than at the same point during Hurricane Ida, despite Florida starting out with nearly three times as many outages as Louisiana. As The Advocate’s Sam Karlin explains, Florida’s power grid was able to hold up better and get power back on faster because of decisions to harden its grid, which Louisiana has failed to do over the past decade.
The differences are perhaps starkest in the places hardest hit by the storms. In Lee and Charlotte counties, which sit on the western coast and took the brunt of the storm, 20% or fewer customers remained without power by Friday. At the same point after Ida, almost no one had their power back in the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana – including the coastal communities of Terrebonne and Lafourche, and St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles further inland. The poorer performance in Louisiana should not come as a surprise. Unlike Louisiana, Florida chose to overhaul its grid planning after taking a beating from hurricanes in the early 2000s, making several changes to rules and laws governing utilities. It also invested billions in storm hardening, costs billed to ratepayers.
Louisiana’s rural job funk
Rural areas of Louisiana will continue to see population decline that could result in the loss of neary 3,000 non-farm jobs by 2025, according to a new forecast from economist Loren Scott. While Louisiana’s metropolitan areas have been dealing with their own outmigration problem, they’ve been able to supplement the loss, to an extent, with new workers from rural areas. But as The Advocate’s Faimon A. Roberts III explains, the loss of people in the 29 parishes outside the state’s nine metropolitan areas could have consequences that are statewide.
“Of Louisiana’s 29 rural parishes, only three experienced population gains between 2010 and 2020 — Lincoln, Beauregard and Jeff Davis — while 10 rural parishes found their populations fell by 10% or more,” Scott notes. Since 2014, a combination of factors, including plant closures in LaSalle and Concordia parishes, the downturn in drilling for oil and gas in the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana and retrenching among the state’s shipbuilders have sped the declines. “All of these factors contributed to the funk rural Louisiana has been in since 2014,” Scott wrote.
Edwards won’t mimic presidential pot pardon
Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Friday that he agrees with President Joe Biden’s move to pardon federal convictions for simple marijuana possession. While the governor agrees that a conviction of a simple possession of marijuana should not erect barriers to getting a job or housing or applying for college, and the state already decriminalized it, Edward said he doesn’t have the same power to mimic the president’s move. Gannett’s Greg Hilburn reports on what that process looks like.
(U)nder the Louisiana Constitution, Edwards can’t issue universal pardons. Pardon requests in Louisiana must first go to the state Pardon Board, which can schedule hearings and issue recommendations before then going to Edwards for a final decision.”So what we have to do is look forward and see whether a change in legislation may be able to help, whether it’s going to require some thing to the Constitution,” Edwards said. “But it’s not something I have the authority to do in Louisiana at present and so we’re going to be looking at it going forward and working with members of the Legislature to take their temperature and see if there’s an appetite for moving in this direction.
Number of the Day
2,700 – Number of jobs that could be lost in Louisiana’s rural areas by 2025. (Source: Louisiana Economic Forecast via The Advocate)