The sign-up period for Louisiana’s fall elections begins this morning, kicking off a busy political season that will usher in a new governor and significant turnover in the state Legislature. As always, candidates will tout their support for families and children, who have long struggled to thrive in Louisiana thanks to the state’s high rates of poverty, violence and poor health outcomes. Gambit’s Clancy DuBos looks at the 2023 Kids Count Data Book (by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Agenda for Children), where Louisiana once again finished near the bottom at 49th, and urges voters to hold candidates accountable.

Check to see how incumbent legislators seeking reelection voted on bills that affect kids’ well-being — and ask all candidates how they would have voted had they been in office. Use the 16 indicators as a starting point for questions and research. For example, use the “Bills” tab on the legislative website to find votes on increased funding for early childhood education (House Bill 1) or increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (House Bill 162). Or, just ask what candidates will do to change things. Demand specifics. Take notes. Video their responses if you can. And don’t let them dodge or deflect. Lawmakers, not governors, make policy. Governors often lead, but lawmakers ultimately decide.

Penalizing good drivers with bad credit
Insurance industry lobbyists and business leaders promised in 2020 that “tort reform” – making it harder to recover damages from injuries sustained in car crashes – would quickly lower Louisiana’s perennially high rates for car insurance. The opposite has happened. Last week Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon authorized steep premium hikes for several of the state’s largest insurers, and told consumers to “shop around” if they were unhappy. A new report by the Consumer Federation of America shows a key reason many are paying so much for coverage: Louisiana’s use of credit ratings to determine how much drivers must pay. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Claire Sullivan reports: 

Louisiana auto insurance rates, across the credit spectrum, are significantly higher than the national average, according to the report. Compared with national averages for safe drivers, Louisianans with good credit pay $243 more, those with fair credit pay $392 more and those with poor credit pay $493 more. Using credit as a factor in determining auto rates perpetuates income and racial inequalities, according to the report. “Because credit history correlates to race and income,” the report reads, “raising premiums on drivers with lower credit disproportionately harms low-income consumers and people of color.”

Reality check: Louisiana drivers with poor credit pay $905 more annually than drivers with a DWI and “excellent” credit.

Taking responsibility for climate change
Louisiana, on the front lines of the damaging effects of climate change, sends GOP lawmakers to Capitol Hill who routinely oppose efforts to lower emissions but still expect American taxpayers to pay for costly efforts to mitigate damage to their state. Not a single GOP member of Congress voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s most ambitious effort to combat climate change, and many have spent the last year trying to claw back funding from the landmark legislation.’s Bob Marshall wonders whether the lesson of personal responsibility is being lost on these lawmakers:

 Is it right to reward states that are suffering the consequences of their own actions? Yes, politicians are making those votes. But they’re repeatedly sent to Congress by the people living in those states. If America’s taxpayers keep paying for their mistakes, will they ever learn a lesson? No, I’m not suggesting we let them drown. There is a reasonable solution.  Any federal project to reduce the impacts of climate change should only be granted if that state agrees to take measures to reduce emissions by a commensurate amount. Call it a mandatory climate change quid pro quo. Or, better yet, call it the American way.

The latest look at Louisiana’s losing battle against climate change comes from The Washington Post, which documents the rapidly rising sea levels in South Louisiana and the threat it poses to New Orleans. 

Sales tax holidays are stupid
Sales tax holidays are popular with politicians. They also are bad economic policies. They’re expensive, costing states and localities nearly $1.6 billion in lost revenue in 2023, draining revenue that supports important services like education and police protection that communities need. And they do little to promote economic growth or make state tax systems more fair. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policies Marco Guzman explains: 

Lawmakers must understand that they cannot resolve the unfairness of sales taxes simply by offering a short break from paying these taxes. If the long-term consequence of sales tax holidays is a higher sales tax rate, low-income taxpayers may ultimately be worse off because of these policies. Policymakers seeking to achieve greater tax fairness would do better to provide a permanent refundable low-income sales tax credit or prioritize state-level child tax credits or earned income tax credits which would do more to help families make ends meet and to offset the impact of the sales tax on low- and moderate-income taxpayers.

Number of the Day
$33 – Average savings per “fill-up”in Louisiana for an electric truck compared to a gasoline-powered truck. (Source: Washington Post)