New Orleans is expanding its guaranteed basic income pilot program to provide $2 million in cash payments to disadvantaged teens and young adults. The new program would provide 769 young people who are not working or enrolled in school with $200 per month for one year. Initial data on the city’s pilot program showed that recipients used their money on basic necessities such as food, transportation and utilities. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Joni Hess reports

Administration officials have said basic income is a way to address issues facing “opportunity youth,” that have been exasperated by the pandemic. Defined as those between the ages of 16-24 who are not working or enrolled in school, opportunity youth are less likely to have the resources and education to find and maintain employment, according to a report by the Louisiana Budget Project. Statewide, these young people tend to live in poverty, are disproportionately Black, and because they may still live with their families, they don’t qualify for other forms of public assistance, the report said.

LSU president concerned about expiring sales tax
LSU President Williams Tate’s top concern heading into the first year of new state leadership is how the expiration of a temporary $0.45 cent increase to the state sales tax – and the $420 million it generates annually – will affect his university’s bottom line. Higher education, which has no constitutional or statutory protection against spending cuts, would be among the first areas of the state budget to face cuts if the tax expires in 2025 and the revenue is not replaced. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson reports

“If your antennas are up, you’re paying attention to what we’re going to be able to pull off in terms of working with the legislature and the governor-elect. A lot of it will depend on the tax policy whether or not the taxes roll off or stay on,” Tate said. … “I believe on the tax policy, it’s maybe a tad bit over our paygrade, but we are lobbying… we need good tax policy for us to flourish,” Tate said. 

Despite a recent uptick in state funding, public colleges and universities in Louisiana have pushed costs on to students and families through higher tuition and fees. But as Hutchinson explains, that may not be an option in the years ahead as the state faces an enrollment cliff. 

Across the nation, universities are facing a drop off in students choosing to attend colleges and universities. Louisiana is no exception. Its population is shrinking while its birth rate is declining. According to Carleton College professor Nathan Grawe, Louisiana is projected to experience a 7.5% to 15% decline in college-going students by 2029, the Public Affairs Research Council detailed in a report on falling enrollment earlier this year

Racial inequalities in accessing quality teachers
Students of color in public schools are less likely than white students to be taught by a high-quality instructor, which contributes to racial inequalities in the U.S. education system. Brookings’ Matt Kasman uses new modeling to determine what’s causing teacher quality gaps (TQGs) and the best way to attract educators to disadvantaged schools. 

Results from these simulation experiments suggest that hiring plays the largest individual role in the maintenance of TQGs and that simultaneously making both teacher hiring and mobility more equitable could substantially and rapidly close TQGs. … In the case of teacher hiring and mobility, incentives such as compensation or promotion opportunities designed to attract experienced teachers to disadvantaged schools and keep them from leaving could, if in place for multiple years, help ensure that all students have equal access to great teachers.

In other words: If we want more great teachers in predominantly Black public schools, we should pay them better. 

State workers fear grants won’t reach disadvantaged communities
State workers around the country are committed to ensuring new federal grants go to disadvantaged communities, but are concerned that too many of these areas will be left behind, according to a new report. Researchers at the Environmental Policy Innovation Center found that workers are so overwhelmed with capacity and compliance issues that they do not have enough time to do the necessary outreach to under-resourced communities. Route Fifty’s Kery Murakami reports on the issues state workers are facing and possible solutions: 

“We don’t have the capacity to get out there and talk to communities like we need if we’re going to get them benefits,” one state worker told researchers from the Environmental Policy Innovation Center, Climate XChange and Beech Hill Research. … What would help state workers would be for states to hire what are known as “circuit riders” and “navigators” who would be tasked with letting smaller, disadvantaged communities know about the funding that is available. But an issue with hiring navigators and circuit runners, state workers told researchers, is that it’s unclear if they can use the federal grants for them.

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Number of the Day
$107,000 – The income of a typical homebuyer in the United States in 2023, up from $88,000 the previous year. The 22% increase was the largest annual jump on record and puts homeownership out of reach for many families in the country, where the median income is about $75,000. (Source: National Association of Realtors via CNN)