Friday Facts and Figures: March 22, 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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300

A bombshell report by WNYC describes a culture of corruption and fraud at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). In a 300 page sworn deposition, former EDA incentives director John Rosenfeld says that the Christie administration pressured him and his colleagues to give out billions of dollars in subsidies even if corporations didn’t qualify or follow the EDA’s rules and regulations. In his testimony, Rosenfeld said he thought members of the administration “wanted to take me out back and, you know, physically harm me.” NJPP has called for a full moratorium on EDA subsidies awarded under the Christie administration and a full investigation into the allegations by the New Jersey Attorney General. [WNYC / Jeff Pillets and Nancy Solomon]


$400 Million

Governor Murphy has proposed a package of EDA reforms with a $400 million hard cap on annual awards, mirroring recommendations previously outlined by NJPP. Hard annual and per-job award caps are the best protection against further abuse of the program. For context, New Jersey’s corporate subsidy awards ballooned after 2013 reforms that expanded tax break offerings and removed key financial safeguards. Through the next few years, EDA subsidies are projected to surpass $1 billion a year, further cramping New Jersey’s ability to invest in schools, transportation, and other proven drivers of job creation. [NJ BIZ / Daniel Munoz]


24.3 Times More

If you’re thinking that New Jersey’s tax policy gives preference to the wealthy and well-connected, you’re not wrong. Right now, the state’s top 1 percent make 24.3 times more than the bottom 99 percent of residents — and top earners also pay a lower share of their income in state and local taxes than middle class families. The millionaire’s tax, proposed by Governor Murphy in this year’s budget and long-supported by members of the legislature, is a moderate and necessary proposal to combat growing inequities and reinvest in state assets. Click the link for a deep dive by NJ Spotlight on the history and political context of the proposed millionaire’s tax. [NJ Spotlight / John Reitmeyer]


47 Percent

A new report by NJPP’s Erika Nava finds that 47 percent of New Jersey’s Main Street businesses — think  grocery stores, hair salons, restaurants, dry cleaners, and more — are owned by immigrants. This is remarkable given that immigrants only make up 22 percent of New Jersey’s population. Mounting research suggests that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs as they face discrimination in the job market due to limited English proficiency, and sometimes, their citizenship status. These immigrant-owned businesses are a cornerstone of local economies across the state, bringing in $950 million in revenue per year. [NJPP / Erika Nava]


3 to 5 

With a vote scheduled for this upcoming Monday, the bill to legalize recreational marijuana is three to five votes short in the Senate. The vote count is looking better in the Assembly, where the proposal is expected to have majority support. Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin have been busy whipping votes for Monday’s voting sessions. If the bill doesn’t pass then, it may not come up for another vote until after the November elections. [NJ.com / Brent Johnson, Payton Guion, and Matt Arco]


ICYMI

NJPP’s Erika Nava appeared on NJTV to break down her new report on immigrant entrepreneurship. In the interview, Erika rightfully points out that when immigrants do better, we all do better, and New Jersey’s public policy should encourage that. Proactive policies, like expanding access to driver’s licenses to all residents, would provide immigrants with “more flexibility, mobility, and buying power as customers and employees of immigrant-owned businesses.” [NJTV / Michael Hill]


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