Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
Sign up here.
Vaccine Doses: 14,424,212
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,838,034
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Legislative leaders are calling for hearings on the “delayed” start to legal cannabis sales after voters approved legalization on the November 2019 ballot 17 months ago. But is the roll-out of the legal cannabis industry actually that behind? Not really, considering other states that legalized cannabis took an average of 16 and a half months to set up a legal market — and that enabling legislation wasn’t signed into law by Governor Murphy until February 2021, a mere 13 months ago. Members of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, advocates, and industry representatives alike have defended the delays given the lack of cannabis supply and concerns that a quicker launch would allow multi-state corporations to corner the market. [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
Some exciting budget news (at least for all the budget nerds out there): Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo announced this week that he would like the state to take a multi-year approach to budgeting — a best practice long-recommended by NJPP. In a statement released on Monday, NJPP’s Sheila Reyertson explained why this is the right move: “Multi-year budgeting would move the state away from short-sighted, politically convenient decisions and encourage lawmakers to plan for the future. Looking at revenue collections and spending beyond the current year is the only way for lawmakers to see the full impact of tax and budget decisions and what’s needed to sustainably fund programs that families and communities rely on.” [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson]
New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation with one in four households speaking a language other than English at home, yet many important state documents and forms are only required to be printed in one language — English. That may change, however, thanks to a new bill by Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) that would increase that number to 15 languages. “When people are in need, and especially in crisis, they should be able to connect to the resources available to them,” said Senator Ruiz. “Nothing highlighted this more than these past two years where we saw various obstacles preventing individuals from accessing routine government services.” [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
With control of Congress up for grabs this November, Black women in New Jersey are feeling “politically disconnected and discouraged about their economic prospects,” according to a new poll commissioned by Project Ready New Jersey. Nearly 40 percent of those polled said racial discrimination was the most significant barrier they faced, while one-third said a lack of educational opportunities was an obstacle. “We need our white men and white women to be partners. They hold the wealth and they hold plenty of power,” said Newark Board of Education Member Asia Norton. “We need those from other communities to pour in. They need to say, what do you need?” [NJ.com / Susan Livio]
Harm reduction has been a hot topic in New Jersey over the last year, but the concept is still new to many — both in the state’s halls of power and across the state. Fortunately, HBO’s John Oliver used the latest episode of Last Week Tonight to explain what harm reduction is and why it’s necessary to reduce overdose deaths and support people who use drugs. [The Guardian]
Join us in welcoming Hera Mir to the NJPP communications team! As Movement Communications Strategist, Hera will work closely with partners from across the state to develop a people-centered communications strategy for our racial justice policy priorities. [NJPP]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Henry, a big dog with a big heart! He loves pets, his armchair, and stealing tennis balls. Henry also likes to think of himself as a local celebrity and has many fans around his neighborhood. Woof!
Have a fact or figure for us? Tweet it to @NJPolicy.