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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Opponents of clean energy have used every excuse in the book to stop offshore wind development. Their latest tactic? Falsely blaming recent whale deaths on offshore wind — despite no evidence to support those claims. In a new article breaking down the history of offshore wind development and its detractors, NJPP’s Alex Ambrose points out that correlation does not equal causation: “For decades, it’s been noted that when ice cream sales increase, so do shark attacks. But there is correlation and there is causation.” [NJ.com / Steven Rodas and Ted Sherman]
New Jersey’s finances are improving, according to newly released state data, and that’s a direct result of the state paying off debt and making full pension payments under the Murphy administration. In 2022, for example, the state saw a $4 billion drop in total bonded debt following a big increase in the previous fiscal year. Make no mistake, these payments would not have been possible without revenue from policies like the millionaires’ tax and Corporate Business Tax surcharge. These gains are under threat, however, if lawmakers choose to cut taxes for the state’s biggest and wealthiest corporations. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
New Jersey still has a shortage of teachers — though the size and scope of the shortage remain unclear despite a recent law requiring annual reports on teacher staffing levels. An NJPP report released last year found that the number of teacher candidates has steadily declined since the Great Recession, reaching a 20-year-low in 2019, the latest year data was available. With lawmakers brainstorming ways to address the shortfall, NJPP’s Mark Weber warns not to overlook straightforward solutions like increased teacher pay. “You need to pay them competitive wages, and that starts with making sure school districts have enough resources to pay those wages, not in terms of competing against each other but competing against the broader labor market,” said Mark Weber. [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
The “party line” on New Jersey’s primary ballots is a major barrier to women’s representation in the Legislature, writes Debbie Walsh, Director of the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. Only 38 percent of candidates on the party line in this year’s upcoming legislative races are women — and less than half of these candidates are running in a district where their party currently holds office. “When we New Jerseyans look at the stew of backrooms, horse-trading, and diner-booth deals that comprise the reality of our political system, shouldn’t we ask of ourselves — is there a better way?” [New Jersey Globe / Debbie Walsh]
In non-New Jersey news: On Thursday, Tennessee Republicans expelled two Black Democratic lawmakers from the General Assembly — Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson — for their participation in a peaceful protest in support of gun law reform. Republicans in the Assembly also voted to expel Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, but fell one vote short. This unprecedented move stripped more than 200,000 residents of Tennessee of their elected representation. “What is happening here today is a farce of democracy,” said Rep. Jones on the Assembly floor. “What we see today is a lynch mob assembled to not lynch me, but our democratic process.” [The Tennessean / Melissa Brown]
NJPP is hiring! Are you an operations and finance extraordinaire? Is advancing racial, economic, and social justice in public policy through evidence-based research your jam? Do you want to work with the greatest staff in the state? (NJPP President Nicole Rodriguez’s words, not ours.) If you answered yes to the above, apply for our Operations and Finance Manager position by clicking the link. [NJPP / Career Opportunities]
Pets of NJPP
This is Phil, the coworking kitty of Erica’s sister, Alex. Phil loves playing fetch, trying to steal hair ties from your wrist, and saying hello to neighbors as they walk by the window. Meow!
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