The House Appropriations Committee made hundreds of changes to Gov. Jeff Landry’s budget proposal on Tuesday, stripping money for teacher stipends and early childhood education and adding money for fortified roofs, law enforcement and legislators’ parochial priorities. Lawmakers also added $7 million for domestic violence shelters that Landry had sought to cut, and $3.5 million that will allow the state to draw down $71 million in federal aid to help low-income families buy food during the summer. But the proposed $24.3 million cut for early care and education will result in 1,943 children losing access. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s James Finn, Elyse Carmosino and Andrea Gallo report

Libbie Sonnier, of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, told lawmakers that aside from jeopardizing children currently enrolled in the early education programs, 6,500 children are on waitlists for that care. Sonnier said she was disappointed that “the young children of Louisiana are first on the chopping block.”

The Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue reports that many teachers could end up with a pay cut next year.

Legislators are weighing a teacher pay cut in what is supposed to be a relatively easy budget year. In 2025, Louisiana is expected to face much more difficult spending choices, when an automatic sales tax cut leaves the state with a $558 million budget shortfall. But the House leadership chose to prioritize other education programs in their spending plan instead of keeping teacher pay level. They put $30 million toward a targeted tutoring program for kindergarten through third-graders and spent $2 million on an internship and apprenticeship program. 

A proposal working its way through the Legislature would severely curtail the public’s right to know what government officials are doing by shielding email, text messages and any other records produced in the process of making decisions. The ability to block inquiries would also apply to local officials. But so far these officials have been mum on the harmful legislation. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Will Sutton wonders if local officials care about the state going dark on public records. 

I don’t have time to ask every local official in Louisiana that question, but I did ask a few. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter “would like to refrain from issuing any type of comment on pending legislation”— unless SB 482 “crosses the finish line,” according to Hunter’s public information director. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng didn’t respond to my request. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s communications team said, “The City of New Orleans does not have a comment on SB 482.” Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux said via email that he hasn’t read the bill and cannot respond. I suggested he read it — soon.

Senate Bill 482 is scheduled for debate in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon. 

The Federal Trade Commission issued a ban on the use of noncompete clauses, which forbid workers from taking jobs with their employers’ competitors for a specific period of time. Research has shown that these types of clauses reduce wages and mobility for workers across various industries because employers do not have to compete for employees by raising wages or improving working conditions. The New York Times’ J. Edward Moreno reports

“The F.T.C.’s final rule to ban noncompetes will ensure Americans have the freedom to pursue a new job, start a new business or bring a new idea to market,” the commission’s chair, Lina M. Khan, said in a statement. She estimated the decision would lead to the creation of 8,500 start-ups in a year and up to $488 billion in increased wages for workers over the next decade.  President Biden celebrated the F.T.C.’s vote in a social media post. “Workers ought to have the right to choose who they want to work for,” he wrote on X.

A Labor Department study from 2022 showed that 1 in 5 American workers are bound by these noncompete clauses, but other research suggests it could be closer to 50%.

Two federal rules finalized this week are designed to improve access for the 85 million people covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Allison Orris breaks down the rules by the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which will require more transparency in rate-setting, reduce wait times for appointments and improve access to home and community-based services. 

Once the rules are implemented, they will give CMS necessary information to help ensure that Medicaid and CHIP enrollees can access services they are entitled to. The rules are also critical to advancing health equity, as many enrollees come from underserved communities where, due to racism and other forms of discrimination, access to the full range of health care services is often limited. 

498,000 – Number of Louisianans that have been kicked out of the state’s Medicaid program since April of 2023. This purge is part of a massive disenrollment process sparked by the end of pandemic-era coverage protections. Nearly one-third of those who lost health coverage were children. (Source: Louisiana Department of Health