Friday Facts and Figures: September 6, 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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No Evidence

Yesterday, the Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies heard expert testimony on potential reforms to New Jersey’s scandal-plagued corporate subsidy programs. Jackson Brainerd, a policy specialist with the National Conference on State Legislatures, had the quote of the day. There’s really no need for me to editorialize, so here it is in full: “There is no evidence the number of economic tax incentives bear any relation to the broader performance of a state’s economy. And there is quite a bit of evidence that tax incentives often fail to achieve their stated goals and can have a negative impact on a state’s fiscal health.” Every expert who spoke echoed these same points, making the hearing a potential watershed moment in the ongoing corporate subsidy debate. [Insider NJ / Max Pizarro]


2.6 Million

While there is no doubt — especially after yesterday’s hearing — that New Jersey’s corporate subsidies are costly and ineffective, there are other tax credits better suited to lift the workers and families who need it most. Earlier this week, NJPP President Brandon McKoy stood alongside Rep. Donald Norcross and the Anti-Poverty Network to urge the state’s congressional delegation to support the Working Families Tax Relief Act, which would increase and expand both the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Norcross, would make the federal tax code more progressive and directly benefit more than 2.6 million New Jerseyans, including over 1.1 million children. [NJTV News / Briana Vannozzi]


20 Percent

With or without the federal government’s help, New Jersey is taking major steps to provide families and children facing poverty with critical basic assistance and work supports. After 30 years of neglect, the state has raised cash assistance benefits under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) for the second time in as many years, with a 20 percent boost in FY 2020. Combined with last year’s 10 percent increase, New Jersey has raised its TANF benefit more than any other state in the nation over the last two years. Increasing TANF is not only the right thing to do for families in poverty, but it’s also one of the best investments a state can make as it leads to an immediate increase in consumer spending which reverberates throughout the broader economy. [NJ Spotlight / Lilo Stainton]


268,000

Even with an increase in TANF, more must be done to combat poverty and child hunger in the Garden State. According to a new report by Hunger Free New Jersey, approximately 268,000 children in the state — a whopping 14 percent — are food insecure. Schools, nonprofits, and local governments in several dozen municipalities are stepping up by serving free suppers to children eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches. These programs are powerful tools in combating child hunger and must be expanded, as the existing programs reach only 6 percent of eligible children who could benefit. This is unacceptable in one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest country in the world. [NJ Spotlight / Colleen O’Dea]


14

The Trump administration’s punitive immigration agenda has created a humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border, with countless children being separated from their parents with no promise of seeing them ever again. Family separation, however, is not unique to the border, as it also happens here in New Jersey. We all know that driving is necessary to fully participate (and even subsist) in our suburban-sprawled state, but driver’s licenses remain out of reach for over 700,000 people, including many undocumented immigrants. For these residents, driving puts them at risk of getting pulled over and sucked into the deportation process. Expanding access to driver’s licenses to all residents — as fourteen states have already done — would stop families from being separated while making roads safer for all drivers. [NJ Spotlight / Johanna Calle]


ICYMI

Talk of an interstate corporate subsidy ceasefire is garnering national attention. In this article, The American Prospect outlines the potential benefits of a regional pact between New Jersey and its neighboring states, citing many of the same experts who testified at Thursday’s Senate committee hearing. NJPP’s Sheila Reynertson is also quoted, saying “a cease-fire agreement is a great way to redefine ourselves as part of a larger ecosystem,” and has the potential to stop corporations from playing costly games with taxpayer dollars. [The American Prospect / Marcia Brown]


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