Legislation (Senate Bill 313) is stalled, but not dead, in the Louisiana Legislature that would eventually provide all families, regardless of income, with taxpayer-financed savings accounts that could be used to pay for private, online or home school. But more evidence is coming from Arizona on the huge pitfalls of education savings accounts. New research from Brookings shows how the Grand Canyon State’s ESA program has simply become a handout for wealthy residents:

In Arizona, the state with the first and highest-profile “universal” ESA program, families in the wealthiest, most advantaged communities are obtaining ESA funds at the highest rates. Families in the poorest communities are the least likely to obtain ESA funds. Nothing in the analysis above even remotely suggests that this program is addressing inequities in school access by students’ socioeconomic status.

Arizona’s ESA program also significantly contributed to a massive budget deficit in that state. Analysis from the Public Affairs Research Council estimates that ESAs in Louisiana would cost the state $520 million per year once fully implemented. 

The number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled over the last 50 years, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Nearly one-third of state legislative seats across the country are currently occupied by women, and nearly a quarter of state lawmakers are moms. But as States Newsroom explains, many barriers still exist for mothers who want to become public servants. 

Beyond child care, there are myriad impediments. It takes money and an organized campaign infrastructure. As candidates, they are confronted with gender stereotypes that they often consider in executing their campaign strategy. And the time away from young children can be daunting. … “If you are a mother with young children and you decide to step up and run, the first question you get asked is always ‘but who will watch your kids while you campaign?’” said Grechen Shirley, who ran for Congress in 2018 in New York’s 2nd Congressional District while wrangling her 1- and 3-year-old children on the campaign trail.

Note: Women make up only 23.6% of Louisiana’s Legislature, despite accounting for 51% of the state’s population. 

Louisiana routinely makes use of a federal policy that allows states to waive work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, who live in areas with high unemployment and low job prospects. But a bill nearing final passage in the Legislature would prevent the Department of Children and Family Services from requesting or accepting those waivers. Save the Children Action Network’s Jarret Luter, in a letter to the Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate, explains the negative impacts of Senate Bill 195

Research shows that most SNAP recipients are genuinely in need of assistance and SNAP participants who can work, do! This bill will disproportionately impact those living in rural areas with high unemployment rates and insufficient jobs. … SNAP helps stabilize Louisiana residents during economic hardship and can lead to better employment outcomes. In fact, for each dollar in federally funded SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity. SNAP further generates long-term benefits to the economy by improving health and education outcomes, ultimately reducing future financial burdens on the government.

A new Invest in Louisiana issue brief explains why SB 195 will drive up hunger. 

Gov. Jeff Landry wants to eliminate Louisiana’s personal income tax, and wants the Legislature to kick-start the process during next year’s “fiscal” session. Eliminating income taxes can’t be done without a dramatic increase in sales taxes to offset the revenue loss, which is a non-starter for many businesses. When that reality sets in, Landry is likely to call instead for a flat tax. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s Eli Byerly-Duke explains the pitfalls of flat taxes:

When states levy a single-rate income tax alongside other regressive taxes, the result is a tax system that asks more of low- and middle-income families, not a flat system. Proponents often claim that single-rate income taxes will lead to lower taxes overall. This isn’t true for working class families. On average, graduated income taxes in the states tend to ask about the same of middle-income families as single-rate taxes do. For low- and moderate-income workers, flat taxes usually result in higher tax bills than graduated taxes.

State sales tax exemptions for groceries, prescription drugs and home utilities are protected in Louisiana’s constitution. But these protections could be eliminated in a proposed constitutional convention later this summer and used to pay for income tax cuts for the wealthy. Learn more about a potential constitutional convention at Invest in Louisiana’s website. 

71.7% – Percentage of mothers with children under 18 who are employed. Moms are now working at higher rates than before the pandemic. But mothers without bachelor’s degrees, who are less likely to work in remote-friendly industries, have not returned to pre-pandemic levels of work. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics via Axios