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: 868,541 | Deaths: 22,690
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
New Blueprint *and* Index!
This was a big week at NJPP as we introduced two landmark publications: the Blueprint to Secure a Just Recovery and the State of Opportunity Index. Created in close collaboration with dozens of partners, the Blueprint includes 65 policy recommendations to usher in a pandemic recovery that centers equity and justice for all. The Index is a new, interactive tool that measures how residents are doing in their communities across eight categories: Economic Security, Education, Employment and Earnings, Health, Housing, Immigrants, Police Use of Force, and Transportation. Taken together, these new tools highlight how New Jersey residents are faring and where targeted policy solutions are necessary. Read more about the Index and Blueprint by clicking the link; they are also easily available under the “Publications” drop-down menu on the NJPP homepage. [NJPP]
Speaking of interactive tools, the folks at NJ Spotlight News have unveiled a new budget calculator where you can attempt to balance the state budget based on your policy priorities. Want to end the sales tax cut on yacht purchases? Here’s your chance! Our takeaway from this tool: funding a pandemic recovery for all — with money left over for a healthy reserve fund — is easy once you end Christie-era tax cuts. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer and Colleen O’Dea]
In a new op-ed, NJPP President Brandon McKoy outlines how pandemic relief has proven successful at keeping families out of poverty — as long as they qualify to receive it. By excluding undocumented immigrants from relief, federal lawmakers have left 9.3 million residents across the country behind simply because of their status. “This not only harms those families — who already were more likely to catch COVID-19 or lose their job because of it — but all of us.” It’s time for state lawmakers to fill in the gaps left by the federal government and provide relief to undocumented families. [NJ Spotlight News / Brandon McKoy]
There is no such thing as race-neutral tax policy. Case in point: Repealing the cap on state and federal tax (SALT) deductions would not only disproportionately benefit wealthy residents, but widen the racial wealth gap, according to a new study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). How? Repealing the SALT cap would favor taxpayers with higher incomes and those who own valuable property — and these taxpayers are disproportionately white. If repealed, two-thirds of the tax benefits would go to white families earning more than $200,000 per year, while a mere 5.1 percent of the benefit would go to Black households at the same income threshold. [Forbes / Sarah Hansen]
Some good news in the fight against food insecurity: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended its universal free school lunch program through the end of the 2021-2022 school year. The program, which was set to expire in September, allows all children to eat free — and not just during the lunch hour. The waivers cover meals outside of traditional mealtimes as well as boxed meals that parents can pick up for children attending school virtually. In total, the program is estimated to benefit 12 million children across the country. [The Washington Post / Laura Reiley]
Progress 2021 is right around the corner! Register now for the first event in our virtual speaker series, Meeting the Moment, featuring Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Governor Phil Murphy. [NJPP / Progress 2021]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Rosie, co-working pup of Mara Novak, Co-Executive Director at NJ 11th for Change. Rosie is a 5-year-old rescue pup. She’s originally from Tijuana, which may explain why she’s not a fan of snow or cold weather. She is super shy, but is fond of ferry rides and her purple octopus (Mara did not specify if this is a toy octopus or another pet we’ll have to feature here). Woof!
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