Tax credits for working people and families have a proven track record of lifting people out of poverty and putting children on the path to a brighter future. These credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, are especially crucial now as inflation continues to outpace paycheck earnings and federal pandemic-era protections wane. LBP’s Jan Moller and Delores Hurst of the Capital Area United Way, writing in a guest column for The Advocate, explain why state legislators should increase Louisiana’s EITC during the upcoming legislative session. 

The earned income tax credit rewards hard work, reduces our state’s deep racial disparities and helps make our overall tax structure fairer for everyone. It is a small investment of state resources that can make a big difference in the lives of working families. The EITC’s track record of helping Louisiana families is why it has historically had bipartisan support from rural, suburban and urban legislators, along with the business community. Maintaining an EITC at the federal level and increasing it at the state level encourage more gainful employment among low to moderate-income households.

New Orleans schools missing out on millions in Medicaid funding
The New Orleans City Council has partnered with an education nonprofit to improve local schools’ use of Medicaid funds. Councilmembers entered into the deal after learning that schools could be forgoing millions of dollars in funding designated for mental health services.’s Marie Fazio reports on the agreement and the benefits that could stem from it. 

“[The schools] want to provide more services to their students but I think as we all know, resources are limited,” Carollo said. “We know there’s a mental health issue everywhere right now and in New Orleans. This will help the schools be able to address those mental health issues and also become a model for the state of Louisiana by equipping the local people in New Orleans with this expertise.” One state found a school district left almost $30 million on the table, she said. “Even if we can access 15 [million dollars] the amount of work we can do with that for our students is significant,” Carollo said.

State of the Union provides opportunity 
President Joe Biden will give his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night. While the next two years in a divided Congress will be more about political posturing than actually governing, the time still provides an opportunity for leaders to lay out their preferred direction for the country and what policy choices need to be enacted to get there. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Sharon Parrott explains what she thinks Biden and lawmakers should be considering during the speech and in the years ahead. 

A key question for all federal policymakers — the President as well as members of Congress — should be: how would you change federal policy to move us closer to a nation where everyone — regardless of background or identities — can thrive and share in the nation’s prosperity? While we have made significant progress toward this goal over the last 50 years, much work remains. … An agenda designed to broaden opportunity and reduce the too-high levels of hardship people across the country face would invest in children, support workers and their families, address basic needs that remain out of reach for too many, meet the needs of low-income seniors and people with disabilities, and reform our immigration system so everyone can be fully included in our society.

Ending tipped minimum wage
While Americans are returning to restaurants, the workers who cooked their food and took their orders before the pandemic have not. That’s because many have moved on to jobs with better pay and benefits, leaving the restaurant industry down 462,000 jobs from pre-pandemic levels. As Route Fifty’s Molly Bolan reports, many states are considering doing away with tipped minimum wage, which allows employers to legally pay employees who receive tips well below the minimum wage. 

The restaurant industry is one of the largest employers in the country, and its workforce is overwhelmingly women and disproportionately women of color, Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, an advocacy group, said in a call with state lawmakers and reporters Friday. “They need a full, stable livable wage in order to come back to the restaurant industry,” Jayaraman said. “But we are also hearing from thousands of restaurant owners that they’d like to see policies that would create a level playing field, raise wages across the board and signal to millions of workers that these wage increases are permanent, and it’s worth coming back to more restaurants.”

Economists estimate the tipped minimum age affects at least 5.5 million workers nationwide. In Louisiana and other states that do not have their own state minimum wage and follow the federal rate, this ‘subminimum wage’ comes out to $2.13 per hour. 

Number of the Day
$31 – Average amount of a credit card late fee in America. Louisiana was among the states with the highest average late fees per account. The White House has proposed a new rule that would cap credit card late fees at $8. (Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)