Friday Facts and Figures: July 31, 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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COVID-19 Cases: 180,970 | Deaths: 13,934
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]


Share Your Story

NJPP is researching the true cost of the War on Drugs in New Jersey. If the drug war has impacted you, your family, or your community, please consider sharing your story with us so we can capture the voices behind the numbers. All interviews can be confidential, and we value compensating people for the time they contribute to this work. Click the link for more info. [NJPP / Jenna Mellor]


$200 Million

We did it! On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly and Senate passed legislation to establish a state-level Health Insurance Assessment (HIA). This will raise more than $200 million in annual revenue for the state to protect and expand on the coverage gains made under the Affordable Care Act. A state-level HIA will allow New Jersey to boost enrollment in the state’s new health care exchange later this year, with ample funds to make health coverage more affordable for low- and moderate-income families. This bill faced aggressive opposition over the last few weeks, including a $1 million ad campaign by business lobbyists, but you helped prove the power of the people over corporate special interests! On behalf of NJPP, thank you for contacting your legislators in support of affordable health care. We cannot overstate how important this bill is to lowering the number of people who are uninsured and reducing racial disparities in access to care. [NJ Spotlight / Lilo Stainton]


Professional Licenses

On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly passed legislation to allow all residents, regardless of their immigration status, to apply for professional and occupational licenses. This is a huge win for immigrant families, as New Jersey requires occupational licenses for more professions than any other state in the nation. This bill, which was approved by the Senate last week, eliminates a huge discriminatory barrier faced by undocumented immigrants. New Jersey’s working families and the broader economy will be much stronger when all residents can pursue the careers for which they have trained. This bill will also help fill workforce shortages in fields such as health care and education, which are critical to New Jersey’s recovery from the current pandemic. “Our immigrant community has been indispensable throughout this crisis,” said bill sponsor Assemblyman Gary Schaer. “By lifting this obstacle we can utilize the abilities of every single resident.” [NorthJersey.com / Monsy Alvarado]


5

A handful of states — including New Jersey — are considering big expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), one of the most effective tax policies at lifting low-paid workers and their families out of poverty. New Jersey lawmakers are considering a package of five bills to expand eligibility for the EITC and boost the benefit level. One of these bills, S2194, would extend the tax credit to workers who file taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). This would allow undocumented workers and their families to benefit from the program, which they already pay into. As NJPP President Brandon McKoy told Bloomberg Tax, this proposal is a big opportunity to provide relief to undocumented immigrants and mixed-status households who have been excluded from federal pandemic relief legislation. [Bloomberg Tax / Michael Bologna, Laura Mahoney, and Tripp Baltz]


ICYMI

New Jersey is experiencing an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, in part due to outbreaks along the Jersey Shore. This is a stark reminder that the pandemic has yet to be contained, and we should all continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid indoor gatherings. [The New York Times / Tracey Tully]


Pets of NJPP

We have another reader-submitted Pet of NJPP, this time courtesy of Wesley McWhite of the Hyacinth Foundation! Say hello to Wesley’s co-working pup, Winchester, and his pal, Panda! Winchester is a 10-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier who loves to nap (especially with Panda) and rarely barks. He is a big hit with small dogs, who he lets run, jump, and play all over him. For more information on the Hyacinth Foundation and their work on HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, and health policy, you can reach Wesley at wmcwhite@hyacinth.org.


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