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: 14,060,875
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,644,635
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
With seemingly everyone in the State House focused on making New Jersey more affordable, a proposal advancing through the Legislature would increase the amount of money renters can deduct from their taxable income. The bill would increase the deduction for rent payments to 30 percent from 18 percent, saving the state’s average renter roughly $2,100 per year. NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson testified in support of the bill, with amendments, suggesting that lawmakers convert the deduction into a refundable tax credit so more low-income residents (who may not be paid enough to have to file income taxes) would benefit. [WHYY / Tennyson Donyéa]
Out of Date
New Jersey’s school funding formula is out of date, and the state’s large, low-income districts with majority Black and/or Hispanic/Latinx student populations are not funded enough to set students up for success, according to an NJPP report released Wednesday. The report recommends updating the outdated school funding formula to account for higher learning standards and the needs of today’s students. “Put simply, it costs more to achieve more,” said Bruce Baker, a co-author of the report. “It’s time to revisit the formula and recalibrate it for modern times and modern goals.” [Chalkbeat / Catherine Carrera]
Earlier this week, the Murphy administration retired more than $2 billion in state debt, saving the state a combined $607 million over the next 10 years. “This is about making New Jersey more affordable for this generation and beyond,” Governor Murphy said in a statement. Granted, this is a fraction of the state’s roughly $40 billion in bonded debt, but it’s a step in the right direction and further proof that progressive tax policy (read: raising revenue so the state can actually pay its bills) is fiscally responsible tax policy. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
Last week, after immigrants’ rights activists exposed the shortfalls of the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund, the Murphy administration announced they’d be restoring the original $40 million in funding to the program. Now, immigrant community members and advocates are calling on the Legislature to follow other states’ lead and draft pandemic relief legislation so no resident is left behind in the pandemic recovery. [NJ.com / Star-Ledger Editorial Board]
Nearly one in four temp workers (24 percent) reported that their employers have stolen wages from them, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project and New Labor, the New Brunswick-based worker center. The report also finds that temp jobs aren’t always temporary, with more than a third of temp workers reporting that their current job assignment has lasted more than a year. Even more alarming, 17 percent of temp workers reported workplace injury, and a whopping 71 percent said they experienced retaliation for raising workplace issues with management. Not good. [National Employment Law Project, New Labor, et al.]
Following the release of New Jersey School Funding: The Higher the Goals, the Higher the Costs, report co-author Bruce Baker joined Chat Box on NJ Spotlight News to discuss the school funding formula and how New Jersey can move forward so all its students can succeed. Bruce’s interview starts at the 8:48 minute mark. [NJ Spotlight News / Joanna Gagis]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Pickles, a Texas native who now resides in Portland, Maine with Mario Moretto! Pickles loves to lounge, sometimes has short-lived bursts of energy, and has no problem begging for food. Fun fact: One time, Pickles took a DNA test and it came back saying she was an Alaskan Malamute (Mario, I imagine, quickly asked for a refund). Woof!
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