Advocates for low-income families joined religious leaders, community organizers and others on Tuesday in the House Ways and Means Committee to ask for an increase in Louisiana’s Earned Income Tax Credit. House Bill 162 by Rep. Matthew Willard would double the state EITC to 10% of the federal credit, which would help more than half a million families in every corner of the state. Ways and Means members took no action on the bill, as Chairman Rep. Stuart Bishop wants a full tally of all the tax credit proposals before his committee. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Wesley Muller reports: 

In a phone interview, the Louisiana Budget Project’s Jan Moller said the committee’s approach is generally a smart one, but he thinks the legislature should prioritize certain issues and pass credits for those most in need. “Tax policy is about priorities. Who do you prioritize?” Moller said. “We need to prioritize working families with low incomes.” Moller testified Tuesday morning in support of a bill to expand the state’s earned income tax credit for families. House Bill 162, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, would increase the credit Louisiana offers from 5% to 10% of the taxpayer’s federal earned income tax credit. 

Let seniors live at home 
In 2021, Louisiana’s powerful nursing home lobby killed a resolution by Sen. Kirk Talbot to study the expansion of home- and community-based care for seniors who don’t want to end up in a nursing home. But there’s opportunity for lawmakers during the current legislative session to allow seniors to spend their last years in their own homes. Former Louisiana Health Secretary Kathy Kliebert, in a letter to The Advocate, urges the Legislature to pass two bills – Senate Bill 39 and House Bill 525 – that would put the wishes of seniors and their families first. 

We know that most people want to age in their homes and communities. However, due to demand and underfunding of (home and community-based care) for seniors, this is becoming impossible for many Louisiana residents. My mother wanted more than anything to live out her last years at home. We wanted her to continue to share our lives and be able to attend birthday parties, family dinners and other celebrations in our homes. Due to insufficient home-based services, this was not possible for her. Instead, her last year was one of stress, tears and sadness for her and our family. There are several thousand people statewide that are on the waitlist to receive an HCBS service, with an average waiting time of up to 10 years. 

Update: House Bill 525, which creates a trust fund to finance home-care services for disabled adults, cleared the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday without objection. 

Kids will stay at Angola longer 
Child offenders will be held at Louisiana’s maximum-security prison longer than anticipated after repairs for a replacement facility have been delayed. While the repairs at Monroe’s Swanson Center for Youth were scheduled to be completed this spring, state officials say they won’t be able to transfer kids out of the former death-row building within Angola until the fall. The Advocate’s Jacqueline DeRobertis reports: 

When asked why the project completion date has been extended, [spokesperson for the Office of Juvenile Justice Nicolette] Gordon said that “the ability to complete the project is dependent upon weather and the contractor’s abilities to continue to receive supplies and materials.” … “We are saddened by the news that Angola will remain open until, at a minimum, the fall — but we are not surprised,” [David] Utter said. “OJJ officials overpromised when they convinced Judge Dick that the new Swanson site would be open by April 2023 and the Angola facility was just a short-term site. OJJ continues to underdeliver. Every day any young person is at OJJ’s Angola facility is a day a child is being harmed.”

Biden executive order aims to lower cost of child care 
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday aiming to lower the cost of child care. In the absence of congressional action to tackle America’s child care crisis, Biden is attempting to leverage the power of the federal government to compel companies that receive federal funding to offer their workers access to easier and cheaper child and family care. The Washington Post’s Tony Romm reports: 

The directive aims to provide financial relief to families at a time when locating open spots at day-care centers or providing aid to a sick loved one remains difficult and costly. Even before the pandemic, more than 76 percent of parents said they struggled to access affordable, dependable child care, according to the White House, which stressed that the burden fell hardest on women and people of color. The new order tasks the sprawling bureaucracy — the federal departments that oversee everything from transportation to health care — to determine if it can condition a wide array of Washington money on a promise that recipients help their workers obtain care. 

Number of the Day
222,400 – Number of Louisiana Medicaid recipients who stand to lose their health coverage as the state re-starts reviewing income and other eligibility criteria for the first time in three years. The number is significantly lower than previous estimates of 355,000. (Source: Louisiana Department of Health via the Louisiana Illuminator)