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On Monday, more than 9,000 Rutgers University faculty and graduate student workers went on strike — the first in the university’s history — after working nearly a year without a contract. The strike is not only about better pay, benefits, job security, and housing but the “corporatization” of the university, as Charles Stile of The Record outlines here, where more of the workload is given to untenured, part-time staff and adjuncts. Governor Murphy suggested that additional state funding could help Rutgers meet the workers’ demands, but some lawmakers were quick to criticize that idea, even though Rutgers is the state’s flagship university and has been consistently underfunded over the last two decades. It’s worth noting that lawmakers never restored higher education funding after Governor Christie cut it to the bone a decade ago. Instead, lawmakers are prioritizing multiple corporate tax cuts that will cost the state more than $1 billion every single year. [NJ Monitor / Dana DiFilippo]
New Jersey received two credit rating upgrades this week, one from Fitch and another from Moody’s. These upgrades recognize New Jersey’s improving finances and lawmakers’ commitment to fully funding the state’s pension obligation and paying off debt. Make no mistake, this is a testament to the success of increasing taxes on millionaires and big corporations, as the state would not have the resources to fully fund the pension or pay off debt without these tax policies. If lawmakers move forward with new corporate tax cuts, they will undermine the biggest driver of revenue growth, risking the future health of the state’s finances, the pension fund, and so much more. [NJ Spotlight New / John Reitmeyer]
Starting this week, workers in New Jersey have new protections against mass layoffs. The new law, inspired by Toys R Us laying off roughly 2,000 workers in 2017 after they filed for bankruptcy, guarantees one week of severance pay for every year of service when a company with 100 or more employees lays off 50 or more workers. This is meant to not only support workers but stop corporations and hedge funds from exploiting bankruptcy laws to pad their profits at their workers’ expense. “The workers were left in the dark and cheated out of deserved compensation while the companies were pillaged for their resources. The law will help protect the rights of the workers from these abuses.” said bill sponsor Senator Joe Cryan (D-Union). [NorthJersey.com / Daniel Munoz]
Some clean energy news: A new proposal by the EPA would require a significant reduction in tailpipe emissions, a move projected to eliminate 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2055. While the rule is not prescriptive on how to reduce emissions, it should accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. New Jersey can help with this transition by adopting the Advanced Clean Cars II initiative, which would require all new cars sold in the state to be electric by 2035. The clean cars proposal is currently stalled, and environmental advocates are calling on the Murphy administration to implement it before the end of the year. [NJ Spotlight News / Tom Johnson]
New Jersey’s prison population is half of what it was ten years ago thanks to criminal justice reform — and crime hasn’t risen as a result. However, racial disparities remain as Black people make up 59 percent of the prison population despite accounting for only 15 percent of the state population. These disparities could get worse if new “tough-on-crime” bills are signed into law, perpetuating mass incarceration without getting to the root causes of crime. “It’s astounding,” said NJPP’s Marleina Ubel. “[I]t seems like we’re going to be moving backwards.” [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Muñoz]
NJPP is looking for a rockstar Finance and Operations Manager! Think you or someone you know has what it takes to make sure NJPP’s future growth is successfully and sustainably managed? Learn more by clicking the link..[NJPP / Career Opportunities]
Pets of NJPP
Matisse still thinks he’s a baby and that Erica’s footstool is just for him. But, as you can see by the catnip banana provided for scale, he is actually a pretty big boy. Meow!
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