It should appall everyone, but it does not surprise us

U.S. Rep. Troy A. Carter, Sr., has called out Gov. Jeff Landry on his decision to not allow Louisiana to take part in the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program.

This program would have given Louisiana families living at or under 185 percent of the federal poverty line $40 per month per child during the summer months — a total of $120 per child.

Nearly one in five children in America live in households without consistent access to adequate food. During the school year, these children often rely on school breakfast and lunch programs to help meet their nutritional needs. The program Landry rejected is designed to supplement parents’ summer food budgets to help make up for the nutrition that children in those families would have received at school.

It’s federal dollars. The program would have been easily administered by the state Department of Children and Family Services, which already administers the regular EBT program. So this move is not about saving the state money. And it’s not about pulling people out of poverty as Landry would have us believe. Let’s get real. That notion is laughable. And the very fact that it is the excuse he is using it to explain why he is denying poor families with children an additional $40 per child in food stamps benefits during the summer months means he obviously thinks we are stupid.

Dear Gov. Landry, we are not!

Not only do we know that poverty will not be eradicated by taking from the poor. You know it too. We know it can only be eliminated through increased opportunity, economic equity, quality education, and by giving people a hand up when needed, not by kicking them when they are down. You know it too. But you are not turning down these federal dollars to force poor folk to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, are you? No. That’s not it.

So if turning this program down is not about saving money and cannot possibly be about erasing poverty, why would Landry make such a malicious decision?

About 594,000 children in Louisiana would have benefited from the program, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That comes to about $71.2 million in federal dollars that would have helped poor children that Landry is rejecting.

Rep. Carter is calling for Landry to reverse his action, saying “the Governor’s decision to turn down federal resources to feed children is unconscionable and it is ridiculous to assert that denying them food will somehow break the cycle of poverty. This decision will hurt our most vulnerable children and should be reversed immediately.”

Carter is absolutely correct!

In fact, we will take it a step further. Landry’s decision is vicious. It also does not surprise us. We know who Jeff Landry is. He has shown us. We know marginalized communities will suffer with him as governor. We are in his crosshairs.

That is why nothing Landry says or does can be trusted. Not a single one of his actions is designed to benefit poor communities or Black people, including his crime plan. Speaking of his 24-point scheme and his proposal to bring in a new troop of the state police to patrol New Orleans, you better believe we have side-eyed glance for any of our elected officials that will accept or cosign any of Landry’s so-called “offers” of “help” for any reason.

Some might argue that New Orleans is in trouble. The city needs it. It’s a gift that we must accept.

Well, we have two words for those folk — Trojan Horse. This so-called gift is designed to decimate our communities.

Does our city have a crime problem? Sure. But so do other Louisiana cities. Where is the offer of a dedicated state police troop to occupy those places?

And get this: In addition to his crime strategy, Landry wants to add another $51.5 million in state money to Louisiana’s prison system budget . . . wait, now it makes perfect sense.

Landry is willing to turn down $71.2 million in federal money that would feed poor children, but is eager to invest an additional $51.5 million in a prison system that already has a budget of well over $625 million even as he pushes a 24-point crime plot that will surely reverse any strides made in criminal justice reform in Louisiana.

Are we the only ones that see the connection here?

He wants us to believe that the Department of Corrections needs an additional $51.5 million in state money and that Louisiana needs his crime plan; and he is ready and willing to convince folk of those things on the backs of poor, hungry children.

It’s all a part of a Landry political power play, wherein the impact of one move will ultimately help justify the other. Let us be clear, the Governor of our great state is betting on those 594,000 children, whose summer food safety net he just snatched, to eventually flood the state prison system.

If Landry’s 24-point plan is approved, the list of crimes for which a child can be held in the custody of the state Department of Corrections will expand, the age of individuals considered a “child” for certain criminal dispositions will be lowered, and for those children prosecuted as adults, it gets bleaker. When it comes to adult offenders, Landry wants to restrict parole eligibility, eliminate the earning of good time credit and increase the number of technical violations that can be used to revoke parole. He has even slipped in the previously-rejected plan to expand access to the records of certain juvenile offenders.

We are not sure if the anyone else is peeping game, but it is clear to us that Landry asked himself “How can I ensure that droves of Louisiana’s poorest children are at at-risk of filling the state’s prisons so that 10 years from now everyone else will say that my crime plan was right and needed. I know, I will literally take food right out of their mouths! We will get them, then!”

It’s next-level, evil genius foresight.

Any governor willing to take food out of the mouths of the poorest children in this state is most definitely willing to weaponize the criminal justice system against those same communities. That Landry is willing to use the conditions that are created when food insecurity, poverty, and poor education exist is sickening. We will go a step further. His rejection of the summer food stamp program means that he is actually willing to create or at least exacerbate the very conditions that fuel crime.

Give us one reason to trust this man! There is no justification for leaders who represent poor, Black or otherwise marginalized communities to align themselves with him in any way at any time. This is the time to stand!

Thank you Rep. Carter for calling Landry out.

We wish we could count on the legislature to shoot down this crime plan.

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