Louisiana still has time to join a new federal program that provides extra food assistance to children during the summer. But Gov. Jeff Landry’s administration has not said whether it will participate. The “Summer EBT” program, paid for with federal dollars, was launched to combat rising rates of hunger during the summer months, when children lose access to school meal programs. A Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial hopes that politics don’t get in the way of feeding hungry kids. 

But surely, giving parents an extra $120 to feed their kids isn’t going to make them a burden on taxpayers. On the contrary, it might just give a mother enough breathing room so she can put gas in her car to get to a job, or allow a father to buy books for his kids to enhance their summer learning and help them succeed once the school year begins. There used to be a distinction between giving someone a hand up and a handout. This program, with its limited scope and defined time frame, clearly falls into the former category. If we truly want Louisiana families to thrive, we have to take politics out of every single decision and just do what makes sense.

Landry’s immigration order receives pushback
Gov. Jeff Landry recently issued an executive order directing state agencies to collect and publish data on immigrants living in Louisiana. But the move is receiving pushback from lawyers and immigration advocates who see the directive as cumbersome and merely a way to enhance a lawsuit against the Biden administration and placate political supporters. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Meghan Friedmann reports: 

But carrying out the executive order, which applies even to some immigrants with legal permission to be in the United States, could be a logistical nightmare for those agencies, immigration lawyers and advocates say. Collecting the data may run afoul of federal privacy laws and existing court orders. … Other critics of the order have called it a political move meant to score points with Landry’s base and Republicans in Washington. Still more said it ignores the economic benefits to immigration and has prompted fear and confusion in Louisiana’s immigrant community.

ACA sign-ups surge in red states
A record number of people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act last year, the White House announced on Wednesday. Newly released figures show more than 21 million people have signed up for health plans through the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces, with the greatest surge coming in red states. Louisiana’s 75.9%  year-over-year increase in sign-ups was the second largest in the nation. The Washington Post’s Dan Diamond reports:

Sign-ups in the health insurance marketplaces — a jump of 5 million since last year and the third straight year of record enrollment — were partly driven by states “unwinding” pandemic-era protections in Medicaid, with millions of people culled from the safety net health program, said Biden officials and outside researchers. The enrollment figures reflect a roughly 80 percent surge in sign-ups for the ACA since President Biden took office in 2021 and expanded the subsidies available to consumers.

Former President Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the ACA if voters return him to the White House in 2024. Trump’s call comes despite the fact that Republican-leaning states would be heavily affected by a repeal. 

The rent has never been this damn high
The number of Americans who are considered “cost-burdened,” meaning they must spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs, reached a record high of 22.4 million in 2022, according to a new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. Now, half of all renters are burdened by the high costs of housing. The Washington Post’s Rachel Siegel explains how rent has never been less affordable in the United States

A big reason is that there just aren’t enough units available. There’s been progress, with tens of thousands of newly constructed homes expected to become available this year. But the Harvard study notes that the benefits won’t be felt equally — and that the fresh supply won’t tame housing costs for renters across the spectrum. … “Supply is very important. I will certainty underline that,” [the report’s lead author Whitney] Airgood-Obrycki said. “But the people who are most cost-burdened are not going to see the immediate benefits of that supply.”

Number of the Day
75.9% – Year-over-year increase in sign-ups for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act in Louisiana. The Pelican State’s increase was the second-largest in the nation. (Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services via Axios)