Friday Facts and Figures: April 5, 2019

Friday Facts and Figures is a brief digital newsletter focusing on data points from NJPP reports, research, and policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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72 Percent

According to a new poll, 72 percent of New Jerseyans support raising the income tax rate on earnings over $1 million — and only 14 percent of residents oppose the measure. 90 percent of Democrats support the proposal, as do 68 percent of independents and 48 percent of Republicans. The poll, conducted by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University, is the latest evidence that tax fairness is incredibly popular in the Garden State. Over the last 18 months, polls have shown broad and consistent support for a millionaires tax. [ / Matt Arco]


The millionaires tax would only apply to 39,000 individuals (20,000 residents and 19,000 non-residents). These are New Jersey’s highest earners — the top 0.5 percent — and the main beneficiaries of the 2017 federal tax cut package. On Tuesday, Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo said he wants to avoid the millionaires tax, and instead, will pursue cuts to middle-class public worker health benefits. [ / Samantha Marcus]


The millionaires tax will allow the state to invest in public infrastructure we all rely on, like roads and bridges. Why is this important? According to a new report, there are 544 bridges in New Jersey that are classified as “structurally deficient.” These bridges, accounting for one in ten in the state, have at least one element in “poor” or “worse” condition. The five most-traveled bridges that are structurally deficient are on Route 4, Route 80, Route 495, Route 46, and Route 17. [NJ 101.5 / David Matthau]


Another important piece of infrastructure? Pipes that supply drinking water. There are currently 350,000 water-service lines throughout the state that have lead issues. According to the administration, over 1.5 million New Jerseyans get their drinking water from service lines with elevated levels of lead. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates that it will cost the state $2.3 billion to replace these contaminated pipes. [NJ Spotlight / Tom Johnson]


Rising inequality is a defining challenge of our time — and it goes far beyond income. According to a new report by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the state’s racial wealth gap is a “disaster.” While New Jersey’s White families have a median net worth of $309,396, Black families have a median net worth of $5,900. To help close this gap, the institute is proposing a matched savings-account program for low-income residents. These Individual Development Accounts would operate like a 401(k), except the funds could go towards purchasing a home, paying for education, or starting a business. [NJ Spotlight / Colleen O’Dea]


NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson laid out the benefits of Paid Family Leave expansion in an op-ed in NJ BIZ. Signed into law earlier this year, Paid Family Leave expansion will provide workers with economic security while taking time off to help a sick loved one or care for a new child. It’s also good for businesses as it improves worker morale and productivity. That’s a win-win! [NJ BIZ / Sheila Reynertson]

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