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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Vaccine Doses: 11,005,193
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,526,890
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Big news from last week: New Jersey is now the fifth state in the nation to ban or limit jails from entering into new contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The new law, signed by Governor Murphy last Friday, does not impact existing contracts with ICE, but it forbids detention facilities, both public and private, from renewing or extending existing immigration detention agreements. This is a big step toward creating a fair and welcoming state for all residents, regardless of where they were born, and would not be possible without years of advocacy by immigrants’ rights groups. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Vineeta Kapahi reported earlier this year, New Jersey’s immigrant detention facilities are infamous for unsanitary conditions, medical neglect, and human rights violations. [NJ.com / Brent Johnson]
New Jersey is the sixth most diverse state in the nation, according to the latest Census figures for 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau’s diversity index measures how likely two people chosen at random would be from different racial or ethnic groups. By this metric, Jersey City is the state’s most diverse city and Middlesex is the most diverse county, with Essex coming in a close second. Understanding this diversity should help inform policy decisions and implementation. “Language outreach, for example, is one area where programs need to improve, especially outside of English and Spanish,” NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen told NJ Spotlight News. [NJ Spotlight News / Colleen O’Dea]
It’s a widely known fact that trickle-down tax cuts fail to benefit workers and their communities, but that hasn’t stopped state lawmakers from expanding corporate tax break programs here in New Jersey. A newly signed expansion of the Urban Enterprize Zone (UEZ) program, which exempts companies in low-income communities from paying some taxes and allows them to charge half of the state sales tax, will appropriate $42.5 million for development projects, business loans, and other programs. “[D]on’t expect these reforms to generate tangible benefits for families living in the targeted zones,” NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynerston said. “It’s a tax break for businesses, plain and simple.” [New Jersey Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
Speaking of tax cuts, the gas tax will drop 8.3 cents per gallon starting October 1. This change is a result of legislation passed in 2016 which allowed the gas tax to automatically adjust to meet an annual revenue target of $2 billion. This is the first time the tax was automatically lowered under the 2016 law; this was made possible by more drivers on the road over the past year. And as a reminder, the 2016 gas tax law also cut the sales tax by a fraction of a penny and fully eliminated the estate tax — two tax cuts that continue to disproportionately benefit the wealthiest residents in the state. [New Jersey Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
One of New Jersey’s only needle exchange programs, the Oasis Drop-In Center in Atlantic City, is set to close in six weeks after the city council voted to shut down the program earlier this summer. The council voted to close the program despite the city health director’s recommendation that it remain open — and despite decades of research showing how harm reduction services are the most powerful tools for preventing overdose deaths, the spread of HIV, and connecting people who use drugs to treatment. It’s now up to state lawmakers to #SaveOasis, expand harm reduction across the state, and take the politics out of public health decisions. [The Press of Atlantic City / Molly Shelly]
NJPP’s pivot to video is finally here! Click the link to watch NJPP’s Peter Chen break down his latest report on the Census and what it means for redistricting. We’re also on TikTok now, so please follow us there if you have an account, and please bear with us as we learn how to use the platform — including how to dance. [NJPP / Peter Chen]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Tiger, the co-working cat of Mark Weber, NJPP’s Special Analyst for Education Policy. Tiger is 17 years young and loves bird watching. A Florida native, Tiger is also more proof that tax flight is a myth (just teasing, obviously, because anecdotes — like surveys from moving companies — are not the same as data). Meow!
Have a fact or figure for us? Tweet it to @NJPolicy.