More than one-third of Louisiana teachers work extra jobs to make ends meet, according to a new survey from members of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. The survey also found that more than one-quarter of the teachers union’s members needed to use public benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid. More than 95% of teachers and staff said they simply don’t make enough to raise a family and have considered leaving the classroom. The Advocate’s Marie Fazio reports: 

“If I were a single mom – and I have several friends who are single mom teachers – I would not be able to make it on just my salary,” [Maegan Howes] said. The survey found 37% of teachers are working at least one other job. One respondent, a 37-year-old with 13 years experience, wrote that the teacher shortage was really an “exodus” driven by low pay and added pressure. As a single mom, she said she has to live with a roommate and still lives paycheck to paycheck, often overdrafting her bank account. “I have considered declaring bankruptcy,” the teacher wrote. “I cannot stay in this profession unless we receive a 25% raise.” 

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ 2023-24 executive budget includes a $2,000 pay raise for public school teachers, and $1,000 more for support workers – and possibly more if the state’s revenue projections continue to improve. But the administration is encountering pushback from state lawmakers as it tries to hit a moving target with its increase.

Road Home grantees who already paid state won’t be reimbursed
Louisiana’s Road Home program, created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, provided grants that people could use to elevate their property to reduce the risk of future flooding. But the state sued some grantees who used their grants – with verbal approval from program officials – for other repairs. While the lawsuit was paused and eventually dropped altogether last February, state officials said grantees who already repaid would not be reimbursed. WWL’s David Hammer and Verite’s Richard A. Webster explain how these people, such as Lisa Ruiz of Eden Isle, feel betrayed. 

It wasn’t an easy decision, [Ruiz] she said. That money was supposed to help care for her autistic son after she dies. But rather than hiring an attorney or facing the possibility of a lien on her home, she decided repayment was the best option. “Everything I do, working 12-hour shifts for the past 15 years, is to put money into that account for my son because he’s going to require 24-hour care after I’m gone,” said Ruiz, a nurse. But, she added, “I’m an honest person. If it’s a debt I owe, I’m going to pay it.” … “It’s not fair for people who were trying to do the right thing when there was no benefit for doing the right thing,” she said.

“Proactive policing” linked to racial inequities
Amid a surge in violent crime, New Orleans is planning to enact “proactive” policing techniques such as frequent stop and searches. But critics of these “preventative” approaches to crime say they’re rife with racial bias, and a growing body of research shows that it has negative health effects on the people who come in contact with police. A new study also suggests that proactive policing has negative impacts on the health of Black mothers in New Orleans and their infants. Verite’s Michelle Liu reports:

The paper, published earlier this year in the American Journal of Public Health, found that Black residents in New Orleans neighborhoods with the highest levels of proactive policing — measured by the rate of police stops and searches of residents — were about three times more likely to give birth preterm, or before 37 weeks, than white residents. Black people who gave birth during the study period also disproportionately lived in neighborhoods where more proactive policing was taking place, researchers found.

EVs would make up two-thirds of cars by 2032 under new plan
Electric vehicles could account for up to two-thirds of new cars sold in the U.S. by 2032 under new, ambitious car pollution rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The new tailpipe standards could also mean EVs would make up nearly half of all new medium-duty vehicles, like delivery trucks, and cut the nation’s pollution from vehicles in half. Transportation accounts for nearly 30% of all America’s greenhouse gas emissions. CNN’s Ella Nilsen reports on what’s being called the “the strongest-ever federal pollution standards for cars and trucks.”

Officials are also proposing stronger standards for heavy-duty vehicles, including dump trucks, public utility trucks, and transit and school buses. One expert told CNN the Biden administration’s proposal is a pivotal moment for the US auto industry and consumers. “It’s a pretty big deal,” said Thomas Boylan, a former Environmental Protection Agency official and the regulatory director for the EV trade group Zero Emission Transportation Association. “This is really going to set the tone for the rest of the decade and into the 2030s in terms of what this administration is looking for the auto industry to do when it comes to decarbonizing and ultimately electrifying.”

Reality check: Louisiana has a lot of work to do to prepare for the influx of EVs. A legislative task force charged with recommending ways to tax the increasing numbers of electric vehicles in Louisiana was supposed to have proposals ready for lawmakers to consider for the legislative session. But those aren’t expected to be ready until next year. Louisiana is also the second-worst state in the nation for electric vehicle infrastructure. 

Number of the Day
– Percentage of Louisiana teachers that have needed to use public benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid, to make ends meet because of low pay. Even a $3,000 teacher pay raise- the largest amount being considered during the 2023 legislative session – would still put Louisiana teacher salaries just below the Southern regional average. (Source: Louisiana Federation of Teachers via The Advocate)