Friday Facts and Figures: May 31, 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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$90 Million

Allowing all New Jerseyans — regardless of immigration status — the right to obtain a driver’s license would make the state’s roads safer and its economy stronger. The proposal would also pay for itself and more, as it would generate $90 million in annual revenue according to a new analysis by NJPP’s Erika Nava. As more drivers become trained, tested, and insured, the state would see an uptick in revenue from car registration fees, the gas tax, and sales tax paid at gas stations and auto part stores. Lawmakers in New Jersey and New York are considering proposals to expand access to driver’s licenses. Twelve states and DC already have similar laws on the books. [New York Daily News / Denis Slattery]


630,000

New Jersey is taking major steps to create its own health insurance marketplace. The state-based system would market health insurance policies to individuals who do not receive coverage from their employer or the government. There are approximately 630,000 New Jersey residents who currently have coverage through the individual markets the state would take over: 300,000 low-paid workers who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and 330,000 individuals who have policies through the small-employer market. Eleven other states currently run their own health insurance market, which allows for more flexibility and control over coverage details, outreach, and the open enrollment process. [NJ Spotlight / Lilo Stainton]


100,000+

Companies care about more than tax incentives when they relocate or expand. Exhibit A: Amazon is looking for more than 100,000 square feet of office space — without any special tax subsidies — on Manhattan’s West Side. This news comes just months after the online retailer abandoned plans to build a satellite office in Queens amid blowback over a $3 billion package of state and city tax subsidies. Regardless of tax policy, companies still put a premium on access to major markets, a highly educated workforce, and robust transit infrastructure when making relocation decisions. [New York Post / Lois Weiss]


30 Percent

Connecticut is the seventh and latest state to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour! The proposal will gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2023. This is the latest victory in a big year for the Fight for $15. Four states — including New Jersey — have passed $15 minimum wage legislation in 2019 alone. As a result, more than 30 percent of American workers are now in states moving toward a $15 minimum wage. Other states are following the trend with wage increases of their own: New Mexico and Missouri are raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2023, Arkansas is on a path to $11 by 2021, and Colorado has allowed cities to raise their minimum wages. [Bloomberg / Chris Marr]


40 Percent

A new report by the Federal Reserve finds that nearly 40 percent of Americans would struggle to pay for an unexpected $400 expense, a sign of growing inequality and financial insecurity. The report looks past conventional measures of the economy, such as the gross domestic product and unemployment rate, and highlights how far too many Americans struggle to make ends meet: 17 percent of adults are unable to pay their bills in full every month; 25 percent skipped necessary medical care over the last year because of cost; and 25 percent of workers have no retirement savings or pension.[CBS News / Alain Sherter]


ICYMI

A big congratulations to NJPP President Brandon McKoy for making Insider NJ’s Cannabis Power List! Brandon was recognized at #24 for grounding the legalization debate in hard numbers with his 2016 report on how much revenue a recreational marijuana market would generate for the state. Efforts to legalize cannabis have stalled in the legislature, but lawmakers have shifted their focus to proposals that would expand the medical marijuana program and create a pathway to expunge marijuana related convictions. Shout out and a sincere thank you to everyone on this list for working to undo the harms of the failed War on Drugs. [Insider NJ / Jay Lassiter]


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