Gov. Jeff Landy has said that reversing Louisiana’s continuing outmigration is one of his top priorities, but a slew of anti-worker bills is making the state a less attractive place for people to call home. The proposals in question attack collective bargaining efforts, make it harder to form or operate unions and reduce unemployment benefits. Louis Reine, president of the Louisiana AFL-CIO, in a guest column for the Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate pushes back on these harmful policies: 

How are we supposed to successfully encourage people to come back home when they’ll be paid less, have fewer workplace protections, and won’t be able to get by if they’re laid off? Why would young people stay in Louisiana or come back to Louisiana to teach or work any other public service job when they’re seeing our elected leaders relentlessly attacking the basic rights and freedoms of the people who do those jobs? How is this a “Welcome home” message? 

Union leaders and their allies, including Invest in Louisiana, are gathering at noon on Wednesday at the steps of the State Capitol to stand up for working people. 

Senate President Pro Tem Regina Barrow is pushing back on Gov. Jeff Landry’s controversial choice to oversee Louisiana’s troubled juvenile justice system. Kenneth “Kenny” Loftin, who is poised to lead the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice, is the founder and longtime director of a youth detention center in Coushatta that was the subject of a scathing 2022 New York Times investigation that documented a horrific pattern of suicides, escapes and physical and sexual assaults against children. Loftin was not accused of abuse, but claimed during his confirmation hearing that victims “made up” the allegations. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donghue reports

A handful of Republican senators have also expressed reservations about confirming Loftin and the Legislative Black Caucus has already called for his resignation. Senate staff identified more than two dozen state court cases regarding alleged behavior at Ware that remain private, Barrow said.. … If Landry insists on moving forward with Loftin’s confirmation, Barrow said she would take the rare step of making colleagues take a vote to confirm him publicly. 

Louisiana slashed higher education funding by 42% – about $4,941 per student – from 2008 through 2015, more than any other state in the country. To make up for the lost revenue, public colleges and universities pushed more costs onto students and families. With the Legislature’s blessing, campuses raised tuition by 96.8% from 2008 to 2019, the largest percentage increase of any state. Any changes to tuition must currently garner two-thirds support from the state Legislature, but new legislation would give schools more autonomy to set their own rates. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson explains

House Bill 862 by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, would allow boards for Louisiana’s four university systems to set differential tuition for any graduate, professional or high-cost undergraduate programs. The bill would also give the boards complete control over mandatory fees. … Hughes’ bill would not allow university systems to raise fees and differential tuition more than 10% every two years. It also allows schools to lower tuition and fees without limits. The ability to lower tuition has been sought for some high-demand fields such as teaching.

This greater autonomy could help Louisiana schools adjust to a looming financial crunch in the years ahead, as declining birth rates drive down the number of college-age students and an expiring sales tax creates a massive hole in the state budget. 

The rate of inflation cooled slightly in April, while core inflation, which gives a more accurate picture of inflation trends, saw its lowest annual increase since early 2021. These new numbers are giving hope for long-awaited interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. The New York Times’ Ben Casselman and Jeanna Smialek explain how this relief can’t come soon enough for poorer Americans: 

Affluent households, and even many in the middle class, have largely been insulated from the effects of the Fed’s policies. Many took out long-term mortgages when rates were at rock bottom in 2020 or earlier — if they don’t own their homes outright — and most have little if any variable-rate debt. And they are benefiting from higher returns on their savings. For poorer families, it is different. They are likelier to carry a balance on credit cards, meaning they’re more likely to feel high rates. According to Fed data, about 56 percent of people earning less than $25,000 carried a credit card balance in 2022, compared with 38 percent of those earning more than $100,000. 

7.36% – Dropout rate for high school students in Louisiana, the third-highest rate in the nation. (Source: Teach Simple via BRProud)