Friday Facts and Figures

Friday Facts and Figures: August 5, 2022

New Jersey's process for spending American Rescue Plan funds lacks transparency. Temp Workers' Bill of Rights gets another final vote.

Published on Aug 6, 2022 in General

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Vaccine Doses: 14,673,935
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,996,040
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]

$1 Billion

In the latest state budget, lawmakers used American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to make some big investments in housing, pre-K expansion, and social service operations, but one big item was absent: Direct relief to workers and families. In a new analysis tracking New Jersey’s ARP spending, NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson recommends lawmakers use the roughly $1 billion remaining ARP dollars for hazard pay for essential workers, rental assistance, and cash assistance for residents who maxed out their benefits in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. With only a fraction of the state’s ARP funds remaining, our chance to provide direct relief to workers and families is quickly slipping away. [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson]


And, speaking of the remaining ARP funds, the allocation process is missing another key ingredient besides direct relief: Transparency. While the Murphy administration held public hearings earlier this week on how to use the remaining $1 billion in ARP funds, members of the public are not given an opportunity to testify on specific proposals before they’re approved by the governor or Legislature. “I think the missing step has been that there’s public comment, and then they go back and cook up whatever their proposal is,” said NJPP’s Peter Chen. “Once they announce the proposal, basically that’s it. There’s no more real opportunity for feedback before it’s either voted on or it’s already a done deal.” [WHYY / Tennyson Donyéa]


On Monday, the state Senate will hold a final vote on the Temp Workers’ Bill of Rights, landmark legislation to protect New Jersey’s 127,000 temporary workers from abusive employers (if you’re reading this thinking, “Wait, didn’t this bill pass during the final week of budget season?” … you’re not wrong). The bill passed through both chambers of the Legislature in June, but thanks to a procedural error, the bill voted on by the Senate didn’t match the bill that passed the Assembly, so it needs to be voted on again. With the temp industry making a last-ditch effort to kill the bill, advocates and legislative champions aren’t backing down. “All we’re doing is asking for basic worker protections that, I think, are frankly a common principle in New Jersey,” said Senator Joe Cryan (D-Union), sponsor of the bill. [Gothamist / Karen Yi]


New Jersey’s minimum wage was scheduled to increase to $14 next year, but rising inflation will trigger a slightly bigger increase thanks to a provision in the state’s $15 minimum wage law. Here’s how it works: The minimum wage will rise every year until it hits $15 an hour, either by $1 or the rate of inflation, whichever is higher. Until now, the $1 increase was always more, but rising prices mean the minimum wage will increase by at least $1.13 come January. This is good news for low-paid workers, but New Jersey lawmakers can and should follow the lead of states like California and Hawaii and consider increasing the minimum wage beyond $15. “Whether it’s rent, groceries, or kids’ clothing, it costs more to live in New Jersey today than it did just a few years ago when the $15 minimum wage bill was signed into law,” said NJPP President Nicole Rodriguez. [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]


Electric school buses are coming to New Jersey! A new, $45 million program will grant at least 18 school districts funding to buy new zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure over the next three years. “This generation of kids should be the last generation that gets a toxic daily dose of diesel fumes on the way to school every morning,” said Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley. [NJ Monitor / Dana DiFilippo]


We’re less than two months away from NJPP’s 25th anniversary celebration! Join your favorite policy wonks, advocates, and lawmakers on September 22 and September 23 for our gala and policy conference. Click the link to reserve your spot now! [NJPP / 25th Anniversary]

Pets of NJPP

Meet Bowie Gracie Rosie Stardust. She and her sister Lavender joined a friend of NJPP’s family a few weeks ago (on David Bowie’s birthday, hence the name). She loves to eat, sit in the sun, watch squirrels, and try to hide in plain sight. Meow!

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