The families of more than 124,000 Louisiana children will not receive federal pandemic food assistance because of clerical errors. The main reason families will miss out on more than $16 million from the Pandemic EBT program stems from debit cards being mailed to wrong addresses. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Greg LaRose reports

School districts are the primary source for address information on students eligible for federal food aid, and it’s not clear schools did much more than send out flyers when the P-EBT assistance was first made available, [education consultant David] Rubel said. Heidi Rogers Kinchen, a Louisiana DCFS spokesperson, said via email Monday that the department posted information Jan. 10 on its Facebook page and website about the end of March deadline, how to file for a replacement card and the 274-day expungement period. It’s the only such post on its Facebook feed since then. 

DCFS’ questionable effort to alert families about P-EBT benefits comes on the heels of the state, with the department’s approval, rejecting federal funding to provide extra food assistance during summer.

The House Appropriations committee advanced legislation on Tuesday that would eventually give at least $5,190 a year, per student, for private or online school to any Louisiana family regardless of income. Rep. Julie Emerson’s House Bill 745 had already gained approval from the House Education Committee, but the legislation’s hefty price tag – more than $500 million a year when fully implemented – also required review by the budget committee. Proponents of the legislation attempted to downplay the cost by saying lawmakers would determine how much money to appropriate, but serious financial concerns remain. BRProud’s Shannon Heckt reports

“You have to either be willing to raise that amount in new taxes or you have to take that from somewhere else in the budget,” said Jan Moller, executive director of Invest in Louisiana. … “If it is subject to appropriation and you appropriate less money than there is demand, then what happens? Is it a first come, first choice, which I’ve heard that as a possibility? I would be concerned about that because then you’d have potentially wealthier families who would have access to it,” said Steven Procopio, president of PAR Louisiana.

Similar to school vouchers, ESA programs transfer public dollars to private institutions and service providers. These accounts differ from vouchers in that parents are given much more discretion, as public dollars can cover more than private school tuition. Our new issue brief pushes back on this costly scheme that forces taxpayers to underwrite private school tuition and provides cautionary tales from other states. 

Recently released Census data show that Louisiana’s population loss is being driven by long-term problems, not by short-term economic forces. The state’s high rates of poverty and poor levels of education attainment make it an unattractive place for many people and employers. But as The Data Center of Southeast Louisiana’s Allison Plyer and Robert Habans explain in a guest column for The Advocate | The Times Picayune, Louisiana needlessly gives away millions of tax dollars to corporations that could be used to address these issues. 

Ample literature links educated workforces with growth, yet Louisiana’s higher education appropriation (per full-time equivalent student) was 32% lower in 2022 than in 2008. Instead, business tax incentives are a priority strategy for economic growth in Louisiana, but research on tax incentives concludes that their benefits do not necessarily outweigh their costs. Of course, we rarely evaluate whether our growth-oriented policies make Louisianans better off. And ultimately, short-term wins and losses on growth may mean little in the long game of coastal and climate adaptation.

Gov. Jeff Landry is making preparations for big changes to Louisiana’s tax system. The governor replaced the entire membership of the Louisiana Tax Commission, which has oversight over local property tax collections and assessment appeals, in February. While the effort seems stalled, a bill was introduced during the current legislative session that would have transferred the commission out of the Governor’s Office to its previous home in the Department of Revenue. La Politics’ Jeremey Alford and David Jacobs explain how the wheels are in motion for harmful tax changes in the 2025 fiscal session. 

During an interview for an episode of the “LaPolitics Report” podcast (Spotify/Apple) being released Monday, April 8, [Advantous co-owner Jason] DeCuir adds, “The governor is making a focus on reforming the tax structure, and I think he’s starting to put the right type of people in position to be able to help facilitate these changes that are likely to come in the fiscal session.” …  Giving the revenue department control over the Tax Commission, however, would have also put [Revenue Secretary Richard] Nelson in a place to directly address one of his major policy platforms as a state legislator and then as a gubernatorial candidate: eliminating income taxes.  

Rep. Neil Riser filed legislation on Tuesday that would eliminate the state’s personal income tax – and the nearly $5 billion it generates – on Jan. 1, 2026. Big changes to Louisiana’s tax system could also be coming this summer in a constitutional convention that Landry is pushing. 

2.3% – Percentage of Louisiana children whose parents requested vaccine exemptions when entering kindergarten during the 2022-23 school year. The opt-out rate was only 1.1% the previous year and 0.75% from 2011 to 2017. Higher rates of unvaccinated children could lead to the loss of herd immunity. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via The Advocate | The Times Picayune)