Friday Facts and Figures: January 17, 2020

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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“Getting to Yes”

New Jersey’s corporate tax subsidy programs prioritized special interests and failed to maximize economic benefits to the state, according to a new report by the governor’s task force on tax incentives. The report details systemic issues with the Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) administration of subsidy programs, as the EDA fostered a culture of “getting to yes” with tax break applications. In some instances, subsidy underwriters were warned against and criticized for asking “too many questions.” Another big finding: the “phantom tax” provisions in the Grow NJ program were drafted for the specific benefit of one company: Holtec International. [NorthJersey.com / Ashley Balcerzak]


$20 Million

The task force report wasn’t the only big EDA story this week. On Monday, news broke that Home Depot will open a new distribution center in New Jersey despite having its tax subsidy application rejected. Why is this newsworthy? Because the company’s CEO signed a statement saying that $20 million in tax breaks were necessary for the company to build a new facility in the Garden State. When the EDA called their bluff and denied their application, Home Depot decided to build here anyway. This should serve as further proof that New Jersey has a competitive business climate independent of corporate tax breaks. [Politico NJ / Katherine Landergan]


Cut in Half

A new report on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) finds that the landmark health care law advanced racial equity in health coverage, both nationally and here in New Jersey. By 2018, the state’s uninsurance rate for Latinx residents dropped from 40 percent to 25 percent. For Black residents, the uninsurance rate was cut in half, from over 20 percent in 2013 to less than 11 percent in 2018. According to the report’s authors, new health care reforms in New Jersey — such as establishing a state-based exchange and codifying ACA protections — could help continue equity gains into the future. [NJ Spotlight / Lilo Stainton]


$121 Million

When Governor Murphy signed the state budget last July, he placed $235 million in expenditures in a “lock box,” only to be appropriated once the state was confident it had enough revenue. Now, the state Treasury will release the remaining $121 million in frozen funds, indicating strong revenue collections through the first half of the fiscal year. This is welcome news, as these funds will now be invested in state colleges and universities, municipal aid, reentry programs, the Civic Info Consortium, and much more — all without having to dip into the state’s surplus or Rainy Day Fund. [Burlington County Times / David Levinsky]


14,000

The number of New Jersey school children who are unvaccinated is on the rise, due in no small part to religious exemptions in the the state’s immunization law. Between 2013 and 2019, the number of New Jersey children with religious exemptions increased from 9,000 to 14,000, representing 2.6 percent of all students. A bill to close the religious exemption loophole was thwarted earlier this week by “angry parents and the mobilization of national anti-vaccine celebrities.” Read this explainer by The New York Times and make sure to call your lawmakers so science and basic public health principles prevail. [The New York Times / Tracey Tully, Sharon Otterman, and Jan Hoffman]


ICYMI

The NJPP team broke down Governor Murphy’s second State of the State address in this Rapid Reaction recap. Click through for highlights from the speech, what we liked, what was missing, and plenty of gifs! [NJPP / Louis Di Paolo et al.] 


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