Friday Facts and Figures: August 30, 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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Vetoed

Last Friday, Governor Murphy vetoed legislation to extend New Jersey’s corporate subsidy programs into 2020. The bill, passed by the legislature in June, did not include any reforms despite mounting, indisputable evidence that the tax credit programs enabled abuse and lacked proper oversight against fraud. In his 130-plus page conditional veto (CV), Governor Murphy recommended a complete overhaul of the programs with better targeting, stronger oversight, and a $400 million annual cap on awards. While the legislature is unlikely to concur with the CV, this remains an opportune time for the state to revamp its approach to economic development and ensure tax credits not only benefit the companies receiving them, but also their employees and the broader state economy. [WNYC / Jeff Pillets and Nancy Solomon]


$120 Million

Newark will receive a $120 million loan from the Essex County Improvement Authority to replace lead-contaminated pipes throughout the city. The new plan will replace 18,000 lead service lines over the next 24 to 30 months at no cost to residents; without the loan it was expected to take up to ten years with homeowners paying a portion of the bill. In 2017, citywide testing uncovered lead-tainted water in residential homes across the city. Newark responded by distributing water filters to residents, but follow-up testing found that the filters were not removing the lead. For the past few weeks, the city has given out bottled water to thousands of households with lead pipes. The Natural Resource Defense Council, which sued Newark over the lead-contaminated water, called the $120 million plan a “step in the right direction,” and urged federal court oversight until the pipes are replaced. [CNN / Eric Levenson]


80 Percent

A new poll by Rutgers-Eagleton and Fairleigh Dickinson University finds that more than 80 percent of New Jersey residents say their local school district includes a good mix of races and ethnicities. Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, says this perception is at odds with reality, as New Jersey has the sixth-highest level of school segregation in the nation. Despite being one of the most diverse states, New Jersey has a highly segregated school system due to decades of exclusionary zoning and strict rules that bind students to schools within their home municipalities. [WHYY / Ximena Conde]


110

Earlier this week, Governor Murphy joined legislative leaders and members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to urge the federal government to fund a replacement for the 110-year-old Portal Bridge. Built in 1910, the bridge carries 450 trains and over 200,000 commuters every weekday on the Northeast Corridor. According to Amtrak, the bridge gets stuck in the open position about 15 percent of the time it opens, causing major delays and cancelations. New Jersey has already committed $600 million towards a replacement, but the federal Department of Transportation has not listed the project as a priority. [CBS New York]


$20 Billion

State funding for school capital projects is still far below pre-Great Recession levels, according to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As a share of the economy, funding for new schools, renovations, and new technology was down 31 percent in fiscal year 2017 compared to 2008. This represents a cumulative $20 billion cut across the country. Without new investments, aging infrastructure can lead to extreme temperatures, bad air quality, and poor lighting, all factors that have been linked to lower student achievement. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Michael Leachman]


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