Approximately 70,000 state employees will be eligible for up to six weeks of paid parental leave starting Jan. 1. A new state Civil Service rule provides six weeks of paid parental leave for rank-and-file classified employees, while an executive order issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards covers unclassified employees and appointees. A Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial urges Gov.-elect Jeff Landry not to undo any progress:
The Civil Service Commission’s members are nominated by a panel of college presidents, not the typical political process. Given that paid leave is an attractive benefit for workers, we doubt the commission will change its mind. And we urge Gov.-elect Jeff Landry to continue Edwards’ executive order to ensure consistency among workers in agencies statewide, and from administration to administration. The workforce challenges today aren’t getting easier, after all.
The Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson reports that public colleges and universities are already looking to follow suit:
LSU is ahead of the curve, having written policy that will mirror the state’s. It will allow up to six weeks of paid leave to a parent of any gender within three months of becoming a parent. It will apply to anyone employed for at least a year and go into effect Jan. 1. … Monty Sullivan, President of the Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges System said the system has drafted a policy similar to the state’s that will likely be voted on by the board in December or early next year.
Last weeks’ efforts on paid family leave came after years of work by the Louisiana Paid Family Medical Leave Coalition, which is made up of more than two dozen community leaders and advocacy organizations, including the Louisiana Budget Project.
A new House Speaker
An Acadiana Republican with longtime ties to Gov.-elect Jeff Landry has gained enough support from his colleagues to become the next House Speaker starting in January. Rep. Phillip Devillier, a realtor, has used his spot on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee to promote tax breaks for energy corporations and higher state sales taxes on basic necessities. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Tyler Bridges and James Finn report:
In an October interview, DeVillier named as his legislative priorities fighting crime, changing aspects of the tax code to attract businesses, fixing the state’s beleaguered insurance marketplace and expanding access to controversial “education savings accounts” that let parents sock away taxpayer dollars to pay private school tuition. … DeVillier was one of only 24 House members in 2018 who voted against imposing a temporary .45-cent sales tax that replaced a one-cent sales tax that lawmakers had authorized in 2016. The .45-cent sales tax, which generates more than $400 million per year, will expire in mid-2025 unless legislators and Landry decide to renew it.
Signs of progress for Citizens
Louisiana’s property insurer of last resort is seeing a notable decrease in the number of policyholders for the first time in years. The decrease is alleviating some of the exorbitant policy rates from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. The average policy rate will rise just 4% next year, compared to 64% last year. But as the Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin reports, problems remain.
The improvements represent a small step toward state officials’ goals of shrinking Citizens, which by law must charge more for policies than the private market. That’s not to suggest the insurance crisis has abated. People living in south Louisiana are still being squeezed by high costs, and the crunch has cascaded through the region, affecting schools, affordable housing efforts and more. Data from Citizens shows policyholders are paying unprecedented amounts for insurance, particularly in south Louisiana.
GOP reluctant to discuss child care
Congress recently allowed federal pandemic relief that has propped up America’s child care industry to expire. While Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy quipped that child care was as popular as golden retrievers during a September hearing to address the shortfall, nothing was done. As the 19th’s Chabeli Carrazana explains, conservatives don’t want to provide the funding required to ensure low- and middle-income families have access to quality child care:
At the subcommittee hearing, [labor economist Kathryn Edwards] she was the only one who had a specific response to Kennedy’s question about funding. Raise taxes if you must, she told him, but she argued Republicans could find the money to fund child care if they were also able to find the money to pass two tax cuts in 2001 and 2017, together totaling nearly $3 trillion over a 20-year period. “I would love for you to give child care 20 years, I would love for you to say, ‘Let’s take two decades of runway, invest in young children and see what kind of return that I could get,’” Edwards said.
Number of the Day
78.5 – Louisiana’s statewide public school performance school score in the 2022-2023 school year, which translates to a “B” grade. It’s up from 77.1 last year. It’s the state’s best performance since 2018. (Source: Louisiana Department of Education via The Advocate)