Gov. Jeff Landry’s administration says it has ‘no imminent’ plans to nix an executive order by John Bel Edwards that provides six weeks of fully paid parental leave to all unclassified state employees. A separate state Civil Service rule covers classified state employees. Landry could reverse the executive order at any time or let it expire in August. He cannot reverse the Civil Service rule. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Tyler Bridges reports

State Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, wants Landry to keep the parental leave policy. Freeman sponsored legislation last year to require private and public employers to grant their workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave after giving birth or adopting a child. Her House Bill 596 was killed by a House committee. “This is a critical way to put families first,” Freeman said. Besides, she added, “There’s so much research out there to show that it helps you keep employees in the long run.” Backing her bill was a coalition of 24 groups, including the Louisiana Public Health Institute, a New Orleans-based nonprofit.

Not all teachers have received stipends
In lieu of a permanent pay raise, this year’s state budget included a one-time stipend of $2,000 for public school teachers and $1,000 for support staff. But some teachers and staff still haven’t received their temporary raises midway through the school year. The patchwork of payments stems from the wide discretion the Louisiana Department of Education gave to school districts to disburse the funds. The stipends also aren’t legally required to be given out until May 1. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue reports

The guidance means some school districts and charter schools may not have given out any of the stipend to teachers and staff yet, said Cynthia Posey, legislative and political director for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. The union intends to conduct a poll in the coming weeks to determine how many of its members received the additional compensation. Posey’s organization and legislators have also heard anecdotal reports of teachers being denied the extra money outright.

As O’Donoghue explains, Louisiana teachers’ salaries already lag behind their regional peers. 

(Gov. Jeff) Landry and Republicans want the option to cut teacher pay by removing the stipend to deal with a budget hole. If they gave teachers a permanent raise, it would be legally difficult to claw back the money.

Going backwards on criminal justice
The Legislature will convene for a special session starting on Monday, where a major goal will be to roll back the 2017 reforms that helped reduce Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate by making it easier for non-violent offenders to gain their freedom. U.S. Rep. Troy Carter of New Orleans, who was a state senator at the time, defends those landmark changes in a guest column for The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate: 

It was one of our finest hours. I will never forget one district attorney who tried to kill the reforms, stating, “I know our system is based in Jim Crow, but it has served us well and we should keep it.” This demonstrated how fragile the support for these reforms was, and how important it is that we stand our ground now. … Unfortunately, Gov. Jeff Landry’s call does not seek to tackle these pressing issues. His call also doesn’t provide additional resources for law enforcement or mental health services. It even puts our law enforcement officers at further risk by allowing for concealed carry without a permit. The governor’s call appears to be a callback to the very Jim Crow practices that a rigorous and data-driven process demonstrated had failed just seven years ago.

IRS cuts add to the federal deficit 
The head of the IRS says the federal deficit will swell if Republicans in Congress follow through on their plans to cut his agency’s budget. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act included $80 billion to help the tax agency pursue wealthy tax cheats. But Congress successfully clawed back $20 billion of that funding earlier this year, and GOP lawmakers have called for additional cuts. The New York Times’ Alan Rappeport reports

“For every $100 million taken from the I.R.S., the deficit grows by $600 million over 10 years,” Mr. (Daniel) Werfel (the IRS Commissioner) said, citing Treasury Department data. … The threats of budget cuts have added uncertainty to the Biden administration’s plans to upgrade the technology the I.R.S. uses to process tax returns and beef up the agency’s ability to conduct audits, which Mr. Werfel has pledged will be focused on complex corporate partnerships and wealthy individuals.

Werfel also said his agency would move quickly if the Senate approves of a bipartisan tax bill that temporarily extends and expands the federal Child Tax Credit. The House overwhelmingly approved the deal earlier this month. States Newsroom’s Ashley Murray reports

If passed, the legislation would expand the child tax credit by incrementally raising the refundable portion cap — meaning how much families could see in a refund check — from $1,800 to $1,900 to $2,000 each tax year from 2023 to 2025.

Number of the Day
14% – Percentage of Louisianans that have no internet at home. (Source: Source: Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2018-22)