Louisiana’s equitable infrastructure push

Louisiana’s equitable infrastructure push

State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson made the rounds on Capitol Hill last week as Louisiana became one of the first states to sign onto a federal initiative aimed at hiring more businesses owned by minorities, women or veterans to work on public infrastructure projects. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard explains that the push comes as the federal government is pouring new resources into rebuilding highways, ports, broadband and other infrastructure that could translate into new opportunities for companies that have had a tough time winning government contracts.

Wilson says building small businesses increases the number of companies able to do the job, thus increases the amount of infrastructure work that state agencies, like DOTD, can do. EIP may not have been born in Louisiana, but officials from here recognized it as a plan that could expand the number of contractors, increase the number of jobs, he said. “We’re nothing if not practical,” Wilson said in an interview after the ceremony.

GOP wants to make Trump tax cuts permanent
Republicans on Capitol Hill plan to extend or make permanent key parts of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, which heavily favored wealthy people and corporations, if they regain control of Congress in the midterm elections. The cost of making the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent would be costly: The extension of three corporate tax breaks alone would cost more than President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation plan – and could accelerate inflation. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports

Many economists say the GOP’s plans to expand the tax cuts flies against their promises to fight inflation and reduce the federal deficit, which have emerged as central themes of their 2022 midterm campaign rhetoric. Tax cuts boost inflation just like new spending, because they increase economic demand and throw it out of balance with supply. … “The Republicans did not want to look like they were giving too much away to businesses, so they had some of the business relief expire and had some offset by business tax increases,” said Steve Rosenthal, a policy analyst at the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank. “Now to come back and extend business relief and reverse the increases would mean further tilting our tax system toward the rich and the powerful.”

Universal child care in New Mexico
Access to early care and education programming would become a constitutional right in New Mexico if voters in the Land of Enchantment approve a ballot measure that would pay for the services by drawing on a state trust fund made up of oil and gas revenue. Vox’s Rachel M. Cohen reports that the idea is popular with voters and landed on the ballot after more than a decade of efforts by advocates to address an affordability crisis that affects families with young children across the country: 

Activists in New Mexico, a state not known for its robust child welfare policy, are hoping their efforts can serve as a model for other states as well as signal to the federal government that child care is not just needed but politically popular. “We are absolutely part of a larger network of states, and not every state has a [Land Grant] Permanent Fund, but every state has a legislature and organizing,” said Andrea Serrano, the executive director of Olé, a grassroots group in New Mexico. “We know they’re watching us to see what happens.”

Consequences of carbon capture 
The petrochemical industry and its advocates are touting carbon capture and storage technology – “capturing” carbon emissions and pumping them deep underground – as its best answer to global climate change. Environmentalists counter with studies showing that the technology doesn’t work and what’s really needed is more investment in renewable wind and solar energy. Floodlight’s Sara Sneath explains how Cleco would need to use 55% more water to implement its proposed carbon plan at one of its facilities, an unintended consequence that isn’t unique to the Louisiana utility company. 

Operating enough carbon capture to keep climate change in check would double humanity’s water use, according to University of California, Berkeley researchers. No matter what method of carbon capture—on a power plant or capturing carbon directly from the air — more power and more water will be needed.  The Cleco proposal provides an object lesson in how one solution can exacerbate another problem. “These technologies to mitigate climate change have unintended environmental impacts, like water use and water scarcity,” said Lorenzo Rosa, a principal investigator at Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford.

Number of the Day
72% – Percentage increase in the estimated monthly note for a new home in Orleans Parish from the same time one year ago. (Source: Gulf States Real Estate Information Network via Nola.com)