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While lawmakers in New Jersey are poised to give a big tax break to the world’s biggest corporations, lawmakers in other states are proposing new ways to tax extreme wealth and make the tax code fairer for working families. In a virtual press conference on Thursday, legislators from seven states announced a coordinated effort to tax millionaires and billionaires at the state level to raise revenue to fund schools, infrastructure, and other public programs. The new proposals share the same goal but offer different approaches, like taxing capital gains, increasing the income tax for millionaires, and taxing the estates of wealthy heirs. “The point here is to make sure we do at the state level what is not being done at the federal level,” said New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera. [Washington Post / Julie Zauzmer Weil]
Speaking of extreme wealth … Remember when the business lobby claimed that millionaires would “flee” New Jersey if state lawmakers passed the millionaires’ tax? Well, new federal data once again debunks that claim. The number of millionaires in New Jersey (read: those who earn more than $1 million in annual income) increased by 5.4 percent from 2019 to 2020, the first year the millionaires’ tax was in effect. We said it then and we’ll say it now: New Jersey’s prosperity and fair tax policy go hand in hand. The very public services that the millionaires’ tax (and corporate business tax) fund — like top-notch schools and mass transit — are a big part of why so many people choose to call New Jersey home. [The Philadelphia Inquirer / Erin McCarthy]
Starting January 1, all children in New Jersey are eligible for health care coverage through the state’s Medicaid program, regardless of their immigration status. This is the latest phase of the state’s “Cover All Kids” initiative, and approximately 16,000 uninsured children will gain access to health care as a result. This new policy is a great example of the types of investments states can make when they have a tax code that requires the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations to pay their fair share. [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
In a new op-ed, ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha pushes back against the ongoing efforts to roll back bail reform, highlighting how there is no evidence to support that “tough on crime” policies actually reduce crime. Even with the latest data showing that violent crime is trending downward, that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from introducing numerous proposals to increase criminal penalties and mandatory minimum sentences. “Criminalizing more things will only result in more crime in our statistics — an unjust and self-perpetuating cycle. There will be more arrests, which will lead to calls for bigger police budgets, which will lead to more police presence in communities already suffering from the impacts of mass incarceration and over-policing,” Amol writes. [NJ Monitor / Amol Sinha]
One bright spot in criminal justice policy: New Jersey is expanding a pilot program that pairs mental health specialists with police officers in an effort to reduce police use of force. The success of the pilot in Cumberland County has been promising so far with more than 250 residents assisted and no reported injuries. Many instances of excessive police force stem from calls related to mental or behavioral health crises where a police response may not be the most appropriate, as NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel outlined in this report from 2021, and the state should continue to expand the use of alternative response teams, including those without a police presence. “In some cases, there are communities that do like the idea of a co-responder model,” said Marleina. “However, there are also communities that do not want law enforcement involved at all in certain kinds of crisis responses. All that is to say, I have mixed feelings.” [NJ Spotlight News / Bobby Brier]
Members of the United Black Agenda came out against the proposal to let the Corporate Business Tax Surcharge expire, saying it will expand the wealth of the already wealthy while leaving less for communities in need: “Handing a tax cut to big business doesn’t protect our communities from hard times, and instead will give our state fewer resources to support Black families and seniors.” [Insider NJ / United Black Agenda]
Pet of NJPP
Meet Bella (full name Portabella) to coworking pooch of Jasmine. Bella was born in Georgia and celebrated her first birthday on Christmas. Woof!
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