Who counts as “Black”?

Who counts as “Black”?

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to limit the number of people who can identify as “Black” on census forms as he defends a state congressional map, drawn by the Legislature, that dilutes the power of Black voters. Instead of counting anyone as Black who self-identifies that way on census documents, Ardoin wants to exclude Black people who also list another race or ethnic identity.  The Advocate’s Will Sutton has more:. 

Good, intelligent people who believe in fair representation should agree that if any state has a large percentage of any ethnic group or race, people in that group should be proportionately represented. … Alabama and Louisiana should have second majority-Black congressional districts. We should count Black people who wanted to be identified as Black as well as people who identify as Black and whatever else. I’m all for individual choice when it comes to people deciding who they are. They shouldn’t be penalized as a way to protect majority-White districts when it’s clear that more fair representation is possible.

Race, equity and state taxes 
Louisiana legislators are considering scrapping the state income tax, and replacing some of that lost revenue with dramatically higher sales taxes. Doing so would inevitably raise taxes for the households that can least afford to pay – and cut taxes for those at the very top. The Good Men Project looks at how the lack of an income tax has affected the state of Washington, whose tax structure is considered the nation’s most “regressive,” and the lessons that might hold for Louisiana. 

The state’s heavy reliance on sales tax revenue exacerbates the wealth gap between white and Black families, according to a 2021 report by the Louisiana Budget Project that used ITEP data. Mostly because of sales tax, Black households there pay the highest share of income on taxes while white households pay the lowest, the study found. “Make no mistake, Louisiana’s lower-income communities and communities of color are subsidizing lower taxes for rich households and corporations through our high sales tax rates,” said Neva Butkus, state policy analyst at ITEP.

Bond Commission politics hurts state finances
Treasurer John Schroder’s moves over the past year to pick winners and losers in the state’s finances are contrary to his role as state treasurer and the bond commission which he leads. Last year the commission blocked banking giant JP Morgan Chase from participating in a state refinancing deal, even though it offered Louisiana the best terms among the bidders. And earlier this month Schroder pulled nearly $800 million from the investment firm BlackRock because it has been outspoken about moving away from fossil fuels. On Tuesday, the financial adviser that the state pays to make key decisions criticized Schroders’ recent moves and outlined their negative impacts on state finances. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Greg LaRose reports

The financial hit could come in the form of lower returns on investment or poorer scores from credit rating firms that also focus on environmental factors, resulting in higher interest rates on borrowing. … “It does limit us,” Lamb told Schroder. “We, I believe, have been successful in trying to minimize any kind of cost that might bring to you, but eventually it’s going to bite us in the butt if we continue. So we just have to be careful and prudent about it.”

GOP to use debt-ceiling to force program cuts
Congressional Republicans plan to use the federal debt-ceiling fight to force spending cuts to popular programs such as Medicaid and Social Security if they regain control of Congress in this fall’s elections. The Washington Post’s Eugene Scott reports that GOP leaders also want to extend expensive tax cuts that would increase the federal deficit while cutting entitlement programs. 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending. In an interview in August, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life. 

Columnist Catherine Rampell explains the stupidity of blocking the debt ceiling in terms that Louisiana Sen. John N. Kennedy might appreciate: 

Refusing to raise the debt limit is like going to a restaurant, ordering the lobster and a $500 bottle of wine, and then declaring yourself financially responsible because you skipped out on the check. … If lawmakers dine-and-dash on behalf of Uncle Sam, they tarnish the creditworthiness of the United States and can make it more expensive for the federal government to borrow in the future because investors don’t trust us. Worse, they might accidentally blow up every other financial market on Earth, too.

Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll
Please Help the  Louisiana Department of Education, Agenda for Children, and Women United of United Way of Southeast Louisiana, the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children better understand the impacts accessible child care has on families with children under 5! Click here to take the Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll.

Number of the Day
15 –
Louisiana’s national rank for rural roads that are in “poor” condition. (Source: TRIP via The Advocate)