Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

___

Sept. 1

American Press of Lake Charles on the effect reforming regulations has on the economy:

The amazing growth in the United States economy this year can be attributed to a number for factors, including regulatory reform and the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

Among the signs of a booming economy are the upward revision of the second quarter GDP from 4.1 to 4.2 percent; low unemployment figures and an increase in consumer confidence.

The 4.2 percent GDP, a short time ago, was thought by many economists to be impossible. But it has now been confirmed. Especially benefiting are average income American families, many of whom are experiencing large take home pay increases as well as bonuses and tax cuts.

This has also resulted in boosting consumer confidence. It was just recently announced by The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association, that the Consumer Confidence Index has increased to its highest level since October 2000.

In July, employment rose by 157,000 and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent. Employment increased in professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in health care and social assistance.

Regulatory reform is no minor factor in this economic boom. Relieving the economy from excessive government red tape is a major factor in the current economic growth.

President Trump has made regulatory reform a hallmark of his administration and it is helping to increase jobs, expanding opportunities for workers and businesses and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Government regulations are especially onerous on small business, the backbone of the economy, and at its worst can bury them in paperwork and seemingly endless red tape.

The regulatory reform agenda, however, targets outdated, duplicative, or overly prescriptive regulations that can stifle innovation. To reverse this trend, for example, the Department of Transportation plans to enable the use of certain routine, small drones without a waiver or exemption.

DOT also plans to seek comment on regulatory barriers to vehicles with full automated driving systems in order to enable innovation while maintaining the safety of our nation's roadways.

And in commercial development of space exploration, multiple agencies anticipate streamlining and simplifying the licensing of launch and recovery operations.

Regulatory reform and the Job Cut and Tax Act are working wonders for American families, as well as American businesses.

Online: http://www.americanpress.com

___

Sept. 2

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune on school performance and economically disadvantaged students:

The phrase "all children can learn" has been a mantra for education reform advocates for decades. The message was implicit in the naming of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.

Then, President Barack Obama replaced the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law with the Every Students Succeeds Act. That law gave states more authority to craft policies to improve schools.

"The goals of No Child Left Behind were the right ones — high standards, accountability, closing the achievement gap, making sure every child was learning," President Obama said in 2015 when he signed the new act. "But in practice, it often fell short. ..."

That is frequently the case with these kinds of lofty efforts. There aren't enough resources or the follow through falls short.

That's why the latest analysis of Louisiana schools by the Council for a Better Louisiana is encouraging.

"There are some who suggest that a school that has a high number of economically disadvantaged students can't be an academically high-performing school. Implicit in their message is that "poor kids can't learn." As a new school year begins it's important to remind ourselves that that view is wrong," CABL says.

They aren't talking in the abstract.

The nonpartisan think tank analyzed Louisiana's school performance data for 2016-17. At 644 schools statewide, 75 percent or more of students were classified as economically disadvantaged, CABL found.

Of those high-poverty schools, 124 had gotten an A or B grade from the state. "These are schools that in many cases faced tremendous challenges, but still found ways to help their students succeed," CABL said.

Our aspiration as a state should be for all schools to be high achieving, but these 124 can be an example for others.

...

Successful schools share some common qualities: strong leaders, high expectations, clear goals, sharp focus on improvement. But there is more to it.

...

The trauma of poverty or, for some children, violence can profoundly affect how students do in school.

...

Trauma-informed schools can help ease the effects of violence on children. ...

Staffs at trauma-informed schools are trained to recognize signs of emotional damage, understand ways to make children feel secure and provide them with skills for coping. The schools also eliminate harsh discipline policies.

Some children need mental health counseling, which unfortunately is not readily available in Louisiana. The state has cut mental health services dramatically in recent years. That leaves many youngsters with little or no help in coping with anxiety. Some of them have difficulty paying attention in class. Some may be tearful, and others may have aggressive outbursts that get them into trouble at school.

...

Acknowledging these stresses on children and helping them cope can make all the difference in how they do in school.

...

Online: https://www.nola.com

___

Sept. 4

The Advocate of Baton Rouge on the state government's financial situation:

Louisiana's state government is in better shape financially than it has been in a while, and the Wall Street bond rating agencies are noticing.

The opinions of the agencies are important because they are a factor in setting interest rates on borrowing, which the state does often through bond issues. But beyond that practical issue, state leaders point to the bond ratings as validation of policies from an independent source.

With a hard-fought battle over state finances having concluded with renewal of about half of the newest state sales tax penny, and some increases in other taxes, the state is indeed in better shape financially.

"For too long, our state lacked the stability and predictability we needed, but those days are over," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "We still have a long way to go, but with our economy growing, more people finding work, and our commitment to improve health outcomes and access to education, Louisiana is finally headed in the right direction."

Right direction, but as the governor noted, not entirely positive: S&P Global Ratings, one of the "big three" agencies, revised its financial outlook for Louisiana from "negative" to "stable."

Not exactly three cheers, that. But it's far better than the years of budgets that failed to pay the bills, improperly propping up the operating budget with one-time money and other financial gimmicks.

From July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, state government is in better shape and the economy broadly has improved, although significant hits were taken in the oil patch of Acadiana because of low energy prices.

We would make three observations that somewhat undercut the governor's cheerleading.

One is that the same ratings agencies that punished Louisiana once the bottom fell out of oil prices were also pretty much oblivious to the financial gimmicks and short-term financing during much of former Gov. Bobby Jindal's two terms. The agencies also did not cover themselves in glory during the Wall Street run-up before the markets crashed in 2008.

The ratings are better positive — or "stable" — than bad, but they are not the whole story.

Secondly, the governor knows better than most just how much bitterness and political blood was spilled to reach this point of relative stability, during seemingly endless special sessions of the Legislature. Governmental dysfunction cannot be blessed away by the ratings, even if bondholders are assured of their money for the next few years.

Some of the money raised by the Legislature was just manna from the U.S. Treasury; income taxes for Louisiana are a bit higher because of the Trump administration's federal tax cuts, which reduce a deduction on state tax returns.

And that, as with other policies, represents the biggest problem, the missed opportunity of 2016-18. The governor deserves credit for pushing for more foundational tax reforms, but the Legislature could not bring itself to adopt wide-ranging improvements in the tax system.

Getting from "stable" to "positive" requires more than the status quo stability, and the failure of the legislators elected in 2015 still undermines whatever progress has been made.

Online: https://www.theadvocate.com