SB 577 by Senator Karen Carter Peterson would have established a taskforce to look into the issue of equal pay in Louisiana and make recommendations on how to address the gender pay gap. The bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by Gov. Jindal due to the “costs” it would take to implement such a taskforce. The bill’s author, Sen. Peterson, stressed the need for the taskforce. "To even begin to deal with this issue, it's imperative that we at least identify the root causes. Disparities like this harm our state, deprive it of potential tax revenues and insure working women throughout this state will continue to be at a disadvantage in the job marketplace through no fault of their own. We can and we must do better for the women of Louisiana."
With a poverty rate of 18% and a median income of $41,896 Louisiana is one of the poorest states in America. The average yearly pay for a woman working full time, year round is $30,600 per year, while the average yearly pay for a man is $45,524 per year. This means that women are paid 67 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $14,924 between full-time working men and women in the state.
Dr. Melissa Flournoy, President and CEO of Louisiana Progress, stated that “Improving the economic outlook for families by addressing wage disparity should not be a partisan issue. Most citizens support the core American values of fairness and equality. By vetoing the measure, the Governor has shown his lack of commitment to the business implications of the wage differentials and the impact on the economy in Louisiana. Balancing the interests of business and families is a critical challenge in Louisiana.”
In the report, Louisiana Progress identifies policy and business solutions that will help close the gender pay gap and improve the Louisiana economy. Solutions include: support for pay transparency, encourage employers to provide benefits, expand paid sick leave and encourage training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.