Friday Facts and Figures: November 29, 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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The People’s House

Last Friday, NJPP joined advocates from across the political spectrum to denounce anti-democratic practices at the State House. In an open letter to legislative leadership, more than a dozen organizations outlined how the public is increasingly shut out of the legislative process through limited access to the State House and committee hearings. As Jesse Burns of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey summed it up, “Members of our legislature are representatives accountable to the public. They are guests in the people’s house — not the other way around.” [WHYY / Joe Hernandez]


Best Practices

In a new report, NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson compares the legislature’s corporate subsidy extension bill with Governor Murphy’s proposed reforms. Only one plan — Governor Murphy’s — follows national best practices by instituting a hard cap on dollar-per-job awards, shorter award timeframes, and recurring evaluations of subsidies. Both plans, however, continue to overemphasize large-scale tax breaks to mega-projects rather than cultivating small- and medium-sized businesses. Read the full report for a thorough breakdown and easy to read comparison infographic. [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson]


$50 Billion

State and local governments spend a collective $50 billion per year on corporate tax breaks, according to economist and economic development policy expert Tim Bartik. These investments are often a waste of taxpayer money, as empirical evidence suggests that at least 75 percent of the time, the same jobs would have been located in the state and local economy anyway. Read this Q&A between CityLab’s Richard Florida and Tim Bartik for more info on the high cost of corporate tax breaks and how lawmakers can better evaluate corporate subsidy awards. [CityLab / Richard Florida]


80,000

Approximately 80,000 residents will be added back to the voter rolls under a bill passed by the Assembly on Monday, as New Jersey is on track to become the 17th state to extend the right to vote to people on probation and parole. This is a big win for social justice advocates, as New Jersey’s prisons are the most segregated in the nation and Black residents are disproportionately barred from voting. Ryan Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, describes the current state of disenfranchisement as, “an insidious form of voter suppression that creates voiceless ghosts of democracy.” [NJ Spotlight / Colleen O’Dea]


No-Brainer

The legislature is set to vote on driver’s license expansion next month, according to a spokesperson for Senate President Stephen Sweeney. The proposal, characterized as a “no-brainer” by bill sponsor Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, would allow all residents the ability to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status. Similar laws exist in 14 other states and have been shown to promote public safety and stabilize insurance premiums. NJPP estimates that 338,000 residents will obtain a driver’s license during the first three years of implementation. [NorthJersey.com / Monsy Alvarado and Dustin Racioppi]


ICYMI

Thanksgiving is not only a time to gather with family and friends, but an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the colonial history of our nation. As historian David Silverman explains in this op-ed, “If Americans continue to insist on associating Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Indians, the least we can do is try to get the story straight.” [New York Times / David Silverman]


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