Gov. Jeff Landry made few concrete promises while campaigning for office, but has moved swiftly to put a conservative stamp on state government. Last month lawmakers limited public debate while rushing through policy changes that will increase mass incarceration and drive up the costs of the criminal legal system. Now that the regular session is here, The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial board urges lawmakers to slow down:

We also hope most lawmakers disagree with sentiments expressed by state Sen. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, who said he sees no reason “we shouldn’t try to undo every single thing that was done over the past eight years.” We feel — and believe most Louisianans agree — that significant progress was made during Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ tenure, through legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and through executive action that Landry does not seem inclined to reverse, to shore up fiscal stability, protect rural hospitals, rebuild our coast and build a new, forward-looking energy economy.

It doesn’t seem like Landry is listening. Instead, he appears to be rushing through an overhaul of the state’s constitution – another issue that he did not highlight during his campaign for governor. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Clancy Dubos

There’s also widespread suspicion that Landry already has new constitution that he’s keeping under wraps as long as possible — as he did with his proposals during the two special sessions. Lawmakers may have little appetite for rushing through their first opportunity to follow their own agenda, just to be blindsided in yet another special session — particularly one called to rewrite Louisiana’s entire plan of government with no advance input from citizens. 

Failures at DCFS
A newly released investigation from the Office of the State Inspector General sheds light on the death of Mitchell Robinsion, a 2-year-old who was allowed to stay in the care of his mother despite being hospitalized for possible drug overdose twice in the month leading up to his death. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Andrea Gallo reports on the failures of the Department of Children and Family Services to respond to serious warnings that Robinson was in danger. 

“She [a pediatric emergency physician]  informed the call-taker that the child had ‘overdosed in his own house twice’ and ‘went home with parents who nearly killed him twice’ after being admitted and treated at Children’s Hospital,” according to the OIG report. “Stating that she ‘would like to get this kid somewhere safe,’ she informed the call-taker that she ordered extra blood work to test for fentanyl and had received confirmation that the child had fentanyl in his system at the time of his June 4 hospital admission.” Still, the DCFS bungled the response. When the case was initially assigned on June 7, it was given a “priority 2,” meaning caseworkers were supposed to follow up within 48 hours. That never happened.

As Gallo explains, years of budget cuts and low pay, combined with already high caseloads, have made it difficult for the state’s child welfare agency to retain caseworkers: 

Still, [DCFS secretary David] Matlock warned that the number of child welfare investigations is increasing and that the agency needs more resources. “Though we have focused on hiring and retaining staff, we still do not have an adequate number of caseworkers to keep pace with the increase in investigations over the last several years,” Matlock wrote. “All of this impacts services and our ability to meet the needs of Louisiana’s children and families.”

Child Tax Credit expansion would benefit millions of children 

Approximately 6 million children under 6, including 116,000 in Louisiana, would benefit from a bill that would extend and expand the federal Child Tax Credit, according to new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The U.S. House recently voted overwhelmingly, in bipartisan fashion, to advance a $78 billion tax package that expands the credit and restores some business tax breaks that were eliminated in 2017. CBPP’s Sarah Calame explains: 

Young children of all races and ethnicities would benefit from the bill’s Child Tax Credit expansion. Overall, the expansion would deliver a larger credit to 1 in 4 children under age 6. It would benefit even larger shares of Black, Latino, or American Indian or Alaska Native young children, whose parents are overrepresented in low-paid work and may face more limited economic opportunities due to historical and ongoing discrimination and other structural barriers.

The New York Times’ Kayla Guo reports that the bill is now stalled in the Senate:

Republicans see an opportunity to win the Senate majority in November, a shift in control that would position [Senator Michael D] Mr. Crapo to be chairman of the Finance Committee. Some, including [Senator Thom] Mr. Tillis, have argued that Republicans will have more leverage to negotiate a tax bill next year, when former President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 tax law is set to expire. “That’s one of the things we’re talking about,” Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, said on Thursday after Republicans discussed the bill during a closed-door meeting.

Trickle-down economics is a scam

There is ample evidence on both the state and federal levels that tax cuts for the rich increase income inequality but do little to increase economic activity. But proponents of supply-side economics remain unfazed. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin explains how “trickle-down economics” ignores decades of evidence: 

Well, what about the huge tax cuts passed by MAGA Republicans in 2017? Were those any different? “Mr. Trump’s tax cuts have lifted the fortunes of the ultra-rich,” the report found. “For the first time in a century, the 400 richest American families paid lower taxes in 2018 than people in the middle class, the economists found.” But economic growth made up for this handout, right?! Not so fast. Wages for average Americans did not keep up with the cost of living. Worse, “Even before the pandemic, income inequality had reached its highest point in 50 years, according to Census data,” as CBS News reported. 

Number of the Day

116,000 – Number of Louisiana children that would benefit from a proposal that expands the federal Child Tax Credit. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)