Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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COVID-19 Cases: 848,566 | Deaths: 22,461
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
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New Jersey just hit a big vaccine milestone: More than 2.3 million people — representing more than one in three adults — are now fully vaccinated! This number should continue to climb as more than half of adults in the state have received at least one dose. State officials are aiming to vaccinate 70 percent of adults by the end of June and, on Monday, vaccine eligibility will expand to include anyone 16 or older. Racial inequities persist in vaccine rollout, however, with a mere 15 percent of administered doses having gone to Black or Hispanic/Latinx residents. [NJ.com / Matt Arco]
In a powerful editorial, the Star-Ledger has come out in support of providing pandemic relief to undocumented residents who have gone 13 months without relief. The Editorial Board notes that a recovery for all is not only the moral thing to do — especially considering undocumented immigrants were disproportionately harmed by the pandemic — but the fair thing to do. “There are an estimated 460,000 undocumented immigrants in Jersey, and our economy depends on them, especially now. They pay $600 million in taxes each year to the state. They have contributed $1.3 billion in payroll tax over the last decade.” [NJ.com / Star-Ledger Editorial Board]
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Earlier this week, Governor Murphy announced new financial assistance for residents enrolling in the state’s health care exchange, GetCoveredNJ. Nine out of 10 residents enrolling in the marketplace will now qualify for assistance thanks to additional funding from the state and the federal American Rescue Plan. The new subsidies will also help middle-income families as the income threshold has been increased to 600 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or those earning up to $76,560 for an individual and $157,200 for a family of four. [State of New Jersey / Office of the Governor]
New Jersey is projected to have a $6 billion surplus this year — but it’s unlikely that any of those funds will make it into the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” as Governor Murphy plans on draining the account next year. Without a robust reserve fund, New Jersey will remain especially vulnerable to future economic downturns. This is precisely why the state had to borrow billions of dollars last year at the height of the pandemic, as the “Rany Day Fund” was left empty for over a decade after the Great Recession. “We do have an opportunity to continue building that emergency savings account, and we should,” said NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson. “It has to be a priority.” [NorthJersey.com / Stacey Barchenger]
In a new op-ed calling for student loan debt forgiveness, Caroline Barcia and Lily Antonowicz of the NJ Anti-Poverty Network outline how high debt loads make it difficult for young adults to make ends meet and fully participate in the economy. In total, more than 43 million student borrowers owe an average of $40,000 in student loan debt, according to the latest federal data. “This is not simply a matter of less expendable income for borrowers,” write Caroline and Lily. “The financial hardships of student loan repayment hold people back from starting their lives, and force people to choose between essential needs.” [NorthJersey.com / Caroline Barcia and Lily Antonowicz]
Interested in meeting Eddie Glaude, Jr.? Here’s your chance! Sponsors for NJPP’s virtual speaker series will receive access to exclusive green room meet and greets with Progress 2021 keynote speakers … including Dr. Glaude. Learn more about sponsoring Progress 2021 by clicking the link. [NJPP / Progress 2021 Sponsorships]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Max, co-working pup of Julie Borst of Save of Schools NJ. Max is about to turn 2-years-old. He’s a “retired” racer who never raced. He is extremely chill (how fitting that he’s surrounded by snow in this photo) and spends most of his days sleeping. He loves going on walks and his favorite treat is a frozen Kong filled with peanut butter and applesauce. He also loves to give “hugs” (read: pretends he’s a lap dog) and will do anything for a belly rub. Julie’s daughter makes sure he’s smartly dressed in bandanas and sweaters when it’s cold. Woof!
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