Louisiana students can’t learn if they aren’t in school. And over the past five years there’s been a 22% increase in the number of Louisiana public school students who are habitually absent or tardy. A new state report found that  4 in 10 public school students are classified as truant. The state’s top education board is contemplating a range of potential remedies, including denying or suspending drivers’ licenses for truant students. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports: 

The report says the state should adopt the federal definition that says a student is chronically absent if he or she misses 10% or more of the academic year. The task force said educators should also consider requiring students to wear badges to track attendance. “The system may have applications as both a school safety and security tool as well as an attendance tracking system,” according to the 18-page report, which the panel finished last week. … In another area, the group said policymakers should consider denying or suspending driving privileges for students under 18 who are truant.

Proposed changes to income-driven student loan payments
The U.S. Department of Education has released much-anticipated details on President Joe Biden’s new income-driven repayment plan for student loans. The proposed rule could dramatically reduce monthly payments for millions of borrowers, some by more than half, by revising an existing income-driven repayment plan known as REPAYE. The changes would reduce payments to 5% and 10% of discretionary income – income left over after spending on basic needs such as food and rent – for undergraduate and graduate debt, respectively. The New York Times’ Tara Siegel Bernard explains the impacts of the new rule and who stands to benefit.

(I)t also tweaks the payment formula so that more income is protected for a borrower’s basic needs, which in turn reduces payments overall. That change will also allow more low-income workers to qualify for zero-dollar payments. No worker earning under 225 percent of the poverty level — or what a $15 minimum wage worker earns annually — will have to make a payment, the administration said. And people who took out smaller loans — or those with original balances of $12,000 less in total — would receive another advantage. They would make monthly payments for 10 years before cancellation, instead of the more typical 20-year repayment period.

Legislators must address insurance crisis
Louisiana’s homeowners’ insurance crisis, combined with the looming increase in flood insurance rates, could crush the dream of homeownership in many parts of the state. But as The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace explains, while stronger storms fueled by climate change are making Louisiana a much riskier and expensive place to live, there appears to be little interest from politicians up for reelection or seeking higher office this fall to address the existential crisis. 

It’s early, but so far I feel like I’m just hearing a lot of the same old, same old.  There’s a new move, spearheaded by state Rep. and possible gubernatorial candidate Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville, to revive the warmed-over idea that Louisiana’s modest income tax, not other high costs of living here, is the reason for outmigration. Never mind that, while Texas, Florida and Tennessee have no personal income taxes and are growing (they get the money to pay for services through other forms of taxation) every other state in the South has a higher top marginal tax rate, according to the Tax Foundation. That includes places that regularly attract new residents such as North Carolina and Georgia.

House rules make it harder to spend or raise revenue
U.S. House Republicans passed a rules package on Monday that makes it easier to oust the Speaker, open new investigative committees and stymie ethics investigations. The proposal also makes it harder to raise taxes while minimizing the impact of tax cuts on the federal deficit. The New York Times’ Carl Hulse and Luke Broadwater report on the details of the new rules package and potential impacts on transparency and fiscal responsibility: 

The package imposes rules to try to limit spending, including blocking consideration of legislation that would increase mandatory spending, which is how many social safety net programs are financed. Republicans are also requiring a supermajority vote of the House to raise taxes. In a provision that could make it easier to cut taxes, the new rules direct congressional budget offices to try to calculate the “macroeconomic” effect of tax reductions, an approach that could lower the estimated impact of tax cuts on the federal deficit. The rules also call for legislation to be judged for its potential contribution to inflation.


Number of the Day
$114 billion – Approximate amount that would be added to the federal deficit over the next decade if a bill to rescind $80 billion from the IRS is passed into law by Congress. The cut would hinder the agency’s ability to collect unpaid taxes and ensure the ultra-wealthy comply with our tax laws.  (Source: Congressional Budget Office)