Critics of guaranteed income programs – providing people with monthly payments of no-strings-attached cash – often argue that they create a disincentive for people to work, and that recipients will mismanage the money. New data from a pilot program in Minnesota shows the opposite is true, and that a modest infusion of monthly cash can bring life-changing benefits for people with low incomes. Newfound financial flexibility helps participants improve their economic security and makes them more likely to find permanent, good-paying jobs. Route Fifty’s Kaitlyn Levinson reports:

Data from the pilot showed that the number of participants employed increased from 49% to 63% from the pilot’s start to six months after its conclusion. That extra cash gave residents leeway to seek more stable, higher-paying work, [St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor Melvin Thompson] he said. They had time, for instance, to take time from a part-time hourly-wage position to apply for full-time work. The income supplement could also help pay for child care that frees them to work more. Plus, unrestricted cash helps families address their individual needs effectively. … Policymakers must understand that families know what they need better than lawmakers sitting in city hall or in a state or federal legislature, he said. 

A House committee has shelved proposals that would have paused higher premiums for customers of the state’s insurer of last resort and required public hearings on private home insurers’ profits. In the meantime, legislators are moving bills favored by Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple that let insurance companies drop longtime customers, raise rates more often and weaken penalties for companies that try to avoid paying what customers are owed after disasters. The Advocate | The Times Picayune’s Sam Karlin reports

The moves helped bring into focus the Republican-dominated Legislature’s philosophy for tackling the insurance crisis. Lawmakers appear poised to pass several bills that make it easier for insurance companies to raise rates and drop customers. Their hope is that these steps will cause more companies to enter the market, and that the increased competition that will result will eventually lower rates. … Willard, a New Orleans Democrat, proposed a bill that would pause for two years the mandate that Citizens customers pay 10% more than market rate. State officials have long supported the higher rates, the state-backed insurer of last resort, because they believe it’s important to push policyholders back into the private market.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at Louisiana’s public colleges and universities are in the crosshairs of the state’s Republican supermajority legislature and firebrand governor. Rep. Emily Chenevert’s House Bill 904 would impose unnecessary reports for spending on diversity initiatives. And Sen. Alan Seabaugh Senate BIll 486 aims to end DEI and other initiatives altogether. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson reports

Race-based affirmative action, which considers race among other factors in the school admissions processes, was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. … Seabaugh said he believed his bill would make any DEI program illegal, regardless of what it is called. LSU’s recently renamed DEI department — now known as the Division of Engagement, Civil Rights and Title IX — earlier this year but otherwise left its programs intact. “That’s why I didn’t put the I didn’t focus on the name of the program,” Seabaugh said of LSU’s name-change. “I focused on what it actually did.” 

Last year, legislators sought to address Louisiana’s teacher shortage by lowering standards for entering the profession. Some of this year’s proposals to stem the outmigration of classroom teachers are focused on decreasing workloads, making it easier to handle disruptive students and better benefits. A better way to attract and keep more qualified teachers would be to raise their pay. But as The Advocate | The Times Picayune’s Elyse Carmosino explains, there’s little appetite for this obvious solution:

Louisiana’s teachers unions want policymakers to offer permanent pay raises, but Gov. Jeff Landry proposed last month giving some teachers one-time stipends instead of pay hikes. During a House appropriations meeting this week, LFT president Larry Carter Jr. said unfair pay is “a major reason why schools struggle to recruit and retain qualified teachers.” A report released last year by PAR Louisiana found that the state’s teachers, on average, earn less than their counterparts in other Southern states and more than $12,000 below the national average.

73 million – Number of Americans who will be 65 or older in 2030, which will make up one-fifth of the entire U.S. population. Immigrant workers will be needed to address the caregiving shortfall that will occur with increasing numbers of older Americans. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau via Brookings)