Louisiana Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Pelican State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions. 

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1) A 4% state tax applies to non-prescription medicine. Is there a plan to reduce or eliminate this tax?
2) The lowest 20% of income earners are paying 10.4% of their income in taxes while the highest 1% of income earners are paying 5.2% of their income in taxes. Has there been any effort to alleviate the tax burden placed on low-income individuals?
3) Louisiana has the 2nd highest percentage of taxpayers receiving Federal EITC. What makes this states program so successful at reaching so many taxpayers?
4) The infant mortality rate and the obesity rate are among the highest in the country. What is the state doing to combat this? Who is leading efforts to increase health in Louisiana?
5) 17.4% of the population is without health insurance. What statewide efforts aim to increase access to health insurance?
6) Louisiana is one of the poorest states in the country with the 5th most unequal distribution of income and a lower than average per capita income.  More than a third of all jobs pay below the Federal Poverty level.  It is also one of the few states that do not have a minimum wage.  Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to pass legislation for a state minimum wage or to create a living wage? Who is involved?
7) Unemployment insurance average weekly benefits are among the lowest in the country.  Is there any effort to increase the benefit amount? Who is involved?
8) Louisiana does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
9) Louisiana has the 13th highest SNAP participation rate in the country. Are there any special factors that you think might contribute to the states above average performance in this category?
10)  There are a low number of farmers’ markets in addition to a very low number that participate in CSA Programs. Is anyone working to further develop the program?
11) The LIHEAP program in the state of Louisiana only has a 3.3% participation rate among eligible households, the second lowest level in the nation. Is there any effort underway to help spread public awareness of this program?
12) The State of Louisiana leads the nation in percentage of high school dropouts, with a highs school completion rate of just 63.9%. What is being done to help insure that more children stay in school to earn their diplomas? Have any of these efforts been successful?
13) Only 5% of families living under the FPL receive TANF. Is there any movement to increase access to this program statewide? Which organizations or legislators are involved?
14) For a family of 3 the TANF cash assistance income limit in Louisiana is $240, the fourth lowest in the country. Is there any effort to move this level closer to the national average?
15) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected]

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.