Rep. Richard Nelson shelved his plan to eliminate the state’s personal and corporate income tax on Monday after receiving pushback from his colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee over how to make up the massive amount of lost revenue. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Wesley Muller reports on those concerns. 

Rep. Laurie Schlegel, R-Metairie, said she supports eliminating the income tax, but about 75% of her constituents oppose the measure because it reduces their homestead exemption from $75,000 to $25,000. … Rep. Buddy Mincey, R-Denham Springs, voiced concerns that K-12 education funding would be cut by about $1 billion if the income tax were eliminated. … Another part of Nelson’s bill would reduce funding for hospitals that treat uninsured patients. Under the new proposal, parishes would decide how much of that financial gap to cover. Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, said that could create large funding disparities among hospitals. “You’re going to have people from all these other parishes going to the bigger hospitals,” Landry said. 

Nelson’s move comes as no surprise, and The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges reports that he will be using it in his run for governor this fall.

“You can only do this as governor, and you have to have a mandate to do that. Anything short of that won’t happen,” Nelson said in an interview after he presented his tax proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee but then asked the members not to vote on it.

Progressive groups aim to reshape voting in Louisiana
The Louisiana Legislature last year redrew the state’s congressional districts in a way that didn’t accurately reflect the state’s racial diversity – and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the racist maps. But the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Voice of the Experienced and other grassroots groups are not giving up on election reform. On Monday, the activists gathered at the Capitol to advocate for new ways to reshape political representation in Louisiana. The Advocate’s James Finn reports: 

“I never thought that in 2023 I’d be fighting a fight that we fought over 50 years ago,” said Ashley Shelton, director of the Power Coalition, a progressive voting rights advocacy group. … Gina Womack, executive director of the nonprofit Friends and Families of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, said voting rights reform would allow voters a greater say in how the criminal justice system is run. “When certain groups are disenfranchised, it can lead to an uneven distribution of power and a lack of representation for those who need it most,” Womack said.

States look to community colleges to fill labor shortage
States and education and business leaders are looking to community colleges to help address a baffling labor shortfall that is slowing the nation’s economic recovery. Stateline’s Caitlin Dewey reports on the workforce-oriented projects, including an effort in Louisiana to attract young workers to short-staffed fields such as health care and information technology.

Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., also have created industry-specific financial aid programs that incentivize students to pursue careers in fields including construction, nursing, tourism, information technology and transportation. Beginning this summer, Louisiana will offer full scholarships to community college students entering high-demand fields. Alabama, meanwhile, opened a $10 million workforce training center through the state community college system in mid-February; the state legislature has since allocated another $15 million to the center. 

Fiscal crisis nears as debt ceiling fight goes to Wall Street
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy took his debt ceiling hostage negotiations to Wall Street on Monday as the prospect of a fiscal crisis nears. The White House is standing firm that raising the nation’s borrowing limit, which was increased three times with bipartisan support during President Donald Trump’s administration, is not up for negotiation. The Washington Post’s Tony Romm reports on McCarthy’s dangerous standoff and the devastating economic consequences that could result.  

McCarthy’s speech belied the risks in the GOP’s political gambit, which threatens to sink the stock market, thrust millions of Americans from their jobs and jolt the global financial system. The stakes seemed all the more glaring given McCarthy’s choice to deliver his remarks in the beating heart of Wall Street, where markets tumbled dramatically when Republicans in 2011 last tried to use the debt ceiling as political leverage. … “It will be financial chaos,” predicted Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, when asked about a potential brush with default. “Our fiscal problems will be meaningfully worse. … Our geopolitical standing in the world will be undermined.”

Number of the Day
80-84 – Average age of a homeowner in Louisiana. The Pelican State has the highest average age for homeowners in the country. (Source: Census Bureau’s American Community Survey via The Washington Post