Friday Facts and Figures: August 23, 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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$12 Billion

The nation’s 11 million immigrants who are undocumented pay nearly $12 billion in state and local taxes every year, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Further, households headed by a person who is undocumented pay a larger share of their income in state and local taxes than the top one percent of households. The report also outlines two key steps New Jersey lawmakers can take to better integrate immigrants into the mainstream economy: expanding access to driver’s licenses and expanding health coverage to all children regardless of their immigration status. These policies would give all residents access to economic opportunity and enable them to earn higher wages, better care for their families, and spend more in their local communities. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Erica Williams, Eric Figueroa, and Wesley Tharpe]


The CBPP report referenced above also recommends two policies New Jersey has already implemented: in-state tuition and financial aid for college students who are undocumented, and stronger wage theft enforcement. During the last school year — the first with tuition equity in place — 749 New Jersey college students who are undocumented received financial aid from the state. This program, which represents less than one percent of the state’s spending on financial aid, helps children reach their potential regardless of their immigration status. It also allows the state to make the most of their substantial investments in these same students’ K-12 education, and helps maintain a highly-skilled workforce. [ / Kelly Heyboer]


Tuition equity is critical for New Jersey students given the ever-increasing cost of higher education and rising student debt. According to a new analysis by LendEDU, New Jersey has one of the top ten highest student debt figures in the nation. The average borrower in New Jersey owes $33,593 in student loan debt, and 64 percent of New Jersey’s college students graduate with debt. These figures should come as no surprise, as New Jersey’s funding for higher education remains well below pre-recession levels. [NJ ROI / Lauren Minore]


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) turned 23 years old this week, but this isn’t something to celebrate. While the program was meant to provide families in deep poverty with critical basic assistance and work supports, TANF has actually made matters worse by perpetuating both poverty and racial inequity. Specifically, TANF placed a five-year limit on assistance and established stringent work requirements for benefits. These changes resulted in a 90 percent drop in New Jersey families receiving cash assistance — from 152,000 at its peak in 1981 to 16,000 in 2017 — despite the rate of poverty remaining largely the same. New Jersey has taken major strides in reforming TANF over the last two years, but major changes to the program are still necessary to break the cycle of poverty. [NJPP / Ray Castro]

940 Percent

Income inequality continues to climb, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. Since 1978, the average pay of CEOs grew by 940 percent, far outpacing wage growth for typical workers, which increased a mere twelve percent. In real dollars, this puts the average compensation for CEOs of the 350 largest US firms at $17.2 million. As the report notes, this dramatic increase in executive pay is not a result of increases in productivity, but rather the increase in the power of CEOs to set their own pay. In 1965, the CEO-to-typical-worker compensation ratio was 20 to 1; it is now 278 to 1. [Economic Policy Institute / Lawrence Mishel and Julia Wolfe]


Both houses of the legislature will hold a quorum later today to consider changes to the state’s vote-by-mail law. A quorum requires Governor Murphy to act on pending bills that have sat on his desk for more than 45 days, including the proposed extension of New Jersey’s corporate subsidy programs. The proposed extension, passed by the legislature in June, would renew New Jersey’s corporate tax credit programs for seven months without any reforms. The governor has indicated he will veto the measure as it does not include hard caps on subsidies or stronger oversight requirements. Stay tuned. [NJ Globe / David Wildstein]

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