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: 423,226 | Deaths: 16,216
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
A Day and a Half
State legislators, policy experts, reporters, and the public alike all had a measly day and a half to examine a 219-page bill creating new corporate tax incentive programs in New Jersey. The deal on tax incentives, which have a long and fraught history in the Garden State, was announced Tuesday night and immediately put on the fast-track. Bill language was only made available Wednesday, hearings in the Senate and Assembly are happening later today, and a final vote is scheduled for Monday. The total price tag of the proposal? $11.5 billion over six years. If that sounds like a ridiculous amount of money, that’s because it is. Subsidizing corporations with tax credits rarely work — experts say they work 10 percent of the time, at most — but they are expensive. Every dollar given away in tax credits is a dollar gone from the state Treasury, so this bill has potential to do major damage to the state’s short- and long-term fiscal health, especially after state lawmakers borrowed more than $4 billion just to balance this year’s budget. [NorthJersey.com / Ashley Balcerzak and Stacey Barchenger]
It’s not just NJPP sounding the alarm on this new corporate tax break bill, as national experts are also shocked by the sheer size of the $11.5 billion proposal. “[Corporate tax incentives are] a really discredited part of economic policy,” said Greg LeRoy, Executive Director of Good Jobs First, a national economic development watchdog. “This is exactly not what states should be doing right now,” LeRoy added. The proposed corporate tax break programs are even larger than those under former Governor Christie, which routinely awarded more than $1 billion a year. Normalizing this level of corporate tax breaks would cement New Jersey’s status as a national outlier in corporate tax subsidy awards. It also threatens to undo some major tax reforms passed over the last few years. “New Jersey has really been an exemplar this year in positive progressive tax policies,’ said Dylan Grundman O’Neill of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “This big corporate subsidy package really seems to fly in the face of that and walk back a lot of the progress that they’ve made this year.” [American Prospect / Marcia Brown]
Now for some good news: The bill to legalize recreational marijuana has officially passed the New Jersey Senate and Assembly! The bill, which sets the regulatory framework for the new legal cannabis industry, comes on the heels of New Jersey voters approving cannabis legalization on the General Election ballot in November by a 2:1 margin. In a statement, NJPP President Brandon McKoy described the vote as, “a historic day for New Jersey and a pivotal step toward dismantling the failed War on Drugs, which has disproportionately harmed Black and Latinx communities.” Thanks to work social justice advocates and grassroots activists, the bill will use the tax revenue from legal cannabis sales to invest in communities harmed most by the drug war. [NJ.com / Amanda Hoover]
It’s not too late to urge your state legislators to rein in corporate tax subsidies in New Jersey! Use this action page from the For The Many NJ coalition to email your legislators now. This takes less than 30 seconds, I promise. [For The Many NJ / Act Now]
Earlier this week, NJPP released a new report on the challenges faced by parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the link for NJ Spotlight News’ coverage of the report release, featuring NJPP Policy Analyst Vineeta Kapahi. [NJ Spotlight / Raven Santana]
Pets of NJPP
It’s been a long and tough week for us here at NJPP, so we’re including an extra adorable pup in today’s Facts and Figures. Meet Stitch, NJPP Trustee Dan Fatton’s co-working dog! Stitch is on a strict diet due to his gassy tendencies, loves to harass his frenemy Spartapus, enjoys wearing cozy sweaters (don’t we all?), and sleeps 16-20 hours a day. Woof!
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