Friday Facts and Figures: October 18, 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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$2.4 Million

Track Changes in a Microsoft Word Document helped uncover more fraud in New Jersey’s corporate tax subsidy programs. How? Rainforest Distribution Corporation secured a $2.4 million subsidy, in part, because the company backdated a letter in their tax break application. The letter suggested Rainforest was considering moving to Orangeburg, New York in addition to Bayonne, even though the company had no intention of doing so. CBRE, a real estate and relocation firm, advised Rainforest to include the alternate site in its certified application and told a Rainforest executive to visit the Orangeburg site, “in case we are asked.”  [ / Ted Sherman]

$114 Million

Earlier this week, Governor Murphy announced he will release $114 million in state spending for municipal aid, colleges, and reentry programming. The funds were included in this year’s budget, but placed in a “lock box” by the governor until the state brought in enough revenue to pay for the investments. Without new, sustainable sources of revenue — like the millionaires tax — New Jersey will continue to struggle paying for its existing obligations. [ / Samantha Marcus]

17 Percent

“Just-in-time” scheduling is becoming the norm for low-paid food-service and retail employees, who make up 17 percent of the nation’s workforce. Under this scheduling system, workers are given little notice of what hours they are expected to come in, and shifts can be canceled day-of. This results in low-paid workers being on-call, without pay, whenever their employer is open. Fortunately, a new coalition — Fair Work Week NJ — has emerged to push back against this practice with fair scheduling legislation. [NJTV News / Michael Aron]


Here’s some good news for New Jersey’s low-paid workforce: the state minimum wage will increase to $11 an hour on January 1, 2020. The increase was already scheduled under the $15 minimum wage legislation signed by Governor Murphy earlier this year. The new law will raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour — for most workers — by 2024, after which it will be indexed to inflation. [NJ Spotlight / John Reitmeyer]

31 Percent

As we’ve previously mentioned in Friday Facts and Figures, New Jersey’s funding for higher education has yet to surpass pre-Recession levels. According to a new report by The PEW Charitable Trusts, this mirrors a national trend, as total state spending on higher education fell by 31 percent from 2000 to 2015. Federal spending on higher education, meanwhile, has increased by 24 percent, but these funds go mainly to individual students and specific research projects — not general operations or infrastructure. This leaves students paying more in tuition and taking on more student loan debt. See “Figure 4” in the linked report to see the convergence of state and federal funding for higher education. [The PEW Charitable Trusts / Anne Stauffer, Phillip Oliff, et al.]

Required Reading:

When national economic development experts testified to the legislature last month, they were unified in their recommendations to rein in and reform the state’s corporate subsidy programs. If you left the hearing wanting more information on tax incentives — whether they work, what role they play in relocation decisions, national best practices — you’re in luck! Economist Tim Bartik just released a new book, Making Sense of Incentives: Taming Business Incentives to Promote Prosperity,​ and it’s available for free (or purchase) using this link. [W.E. Upjohn Institute / Tim Bartik]

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