America saw an historic reduction in child poverty last year thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, which gave millions of low-income families with kids a financial boost through the temporary expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit. Unfortunately, families lost this critical support when Congress failed to extend the credit last December. But a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains how Congress could make the expansion permanent during the lame duck session, a move that would benefit 391,000 Louisiana children.
“The success of the 2021 Child Tax Credit expansion showed us that high child poverty rates are a policy choice, not an inevitability,” said Chuck Marr, CBPP’s Vice President for Federal Tax Policy and author of the report. “All kids deserve a fair shot at success, no matter their race or parents’ income. The choice before Congress this year is simple: They can act, or they can see millions of children fall back into poverty.”
Medicaid expansion is a bargain for society
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ first action as governor remains his most consequential. Nearly 600,000 Louisiana adults have health insurance because Edwards used his executive authority to expand Medicaid eligibility on his first full day in office in 2016. This decision meant that an illness or injury would not result in financial catastrophe for people with low incomes. An Advocate editorial lays out the benefits of Medicaid expansion and its crucial place in our nation and state’s health care:
Medicaid expansion has proved itself, even if there may still be objections to other parts of the ACA. Rural hospitals and clinics need Medicaid expansion as much as inner-city facilities do. We suspect that the political drawbacks to joining Texas, Mississippi and other Deep South states in rejecting Medicaid expansion will make it impossible for Edwards’ successor to attempt to pull the plug. “The past few elections have proved the ACA is not going anywhere,” the Post editorialized after South Dakota’s decision. We believe that is also true of Medicaid expansion in Louisiana after the 2023 election for a new governor.
State’s high mark on nation’s report card comes with caveat
Louisiana received its highest ranking on the nation’s education report card in nearly 20 years, rising four spots to 42nd overall. But Pelican State students’ gains on the National Assessment of Education Progress mostly came at the expense of other states that saw greater losses of learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. As The Advocate’s Will Sentell explains, Louisiana’s fourth-grade reading scores improved, but our students still remain below the national average.
In Louisiana fourth-grade reading scores rose two points — tops in the nation — while results fell three points nationally. Fourth-grade math scores fell three points in the state compared to a five-point drop nationally. Eighth-grade math scores dropped six points in Louisiana compared to eight points nationally; eighth-grade reading scores slipped one point here and three points nationally. The state ranks 40th in fourth-grade reading, up eight spots, according to figures compiled by the state Department of Education. It is 40th in fourth-grade math, up seven points; 36th in eighth-grade reading, up eight spots; and 44th in eighth-grade math, up three places.
Student loan forgiveness help Black and Latino families
A federal appeals court has blocked the White House from moving forward with its plan to provide student debt relief for millions of borrowers. President Biden followed the latest unfavorable court ruling by announcing that his administration is considering extending the pause on federal student loan payments as the legal process plays out. As many as 40 million people were set to benefit from the plan, and as USA Today’s Marc Ramirez explains, a block would disproportionately affect Black and Latino families the most:
“For minorities who don’t come from a background of generational wealth, where it’s being passed on, a lot of us have to get student loans and makes it take longer to do some of the things that other people are already doing, like having a family or buying a house,” [Ciara Parks] she said. [Louise] Seamster, of the University of Iowa, said the program would have had a huge impact, not necessarily for those with the most debt but for those with the lowest incomes. “For them, debt is particularly onerous and can stick with them for a really long time,” she said.
Number of the Day
391,000 – Number of Louisiana children that lost out on benefits after Congress failed to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit last December. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)