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: 13,870,066
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,548,856
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
The Excluded New Jerseyans Fund — intended to provide pandemic relief to undocumented immigrant families — was cut by $34 million earlier this month after the Murphy administration reallocated the funds toward other state expenses. The $50 million program, funded by federal pandemic aid that was set to expire at the end of 2021, has only reached a fraction of the state’s undocumented residents due to a complicated and onerous application process. Immigrant workers and advocates are calling on the state to fully fund the program and make it easier for qualifying workers to apply. [NorthJersey.com / Mary Ann Koruth]
Doesn’t matter who you ask — Democrats, Republicans, the Legislature, Governor Murphy — affordability is the single biggest issue elected officials hope to tackle in 2022. The problem? There’s no shared understanding of who these policies should target, and many lawmakers are already using affordability framing to push for proposals that would benefit wealthier residents and big corporations at the expense of low- and moderate-income families. As lawmakers explore ways to make New Jersey more affordable, it’s critical that these policies support those who need help the most. [WBGO / Tennyson Donyear]
Did you have trouble keeping track of all the bills that moved during lame duck? Us too, and for good reason. Lawmakers introduced more than 650 new bills during the post-election legislative session and acted on more than 700 bills and resolutions in total, according to a new analysis by NJ Spotlight News. Legislating in a hurry means there’s little time for public input, deliberations — or even time for lawmakers to read the bills they’re voting on. “We passed 100 bills the other day,” said enate President Nick Scutari (D-Union). “It’s pretty hard to read them all and understand every aspect of what you’re voting on.” [NJ Spotlight News / Colleen O’Dea]
Good news for criminal justice reform: The Legislative Black Caucus is resuming its push to allow towns to create civilian complaint review boards to investigate allegations of police misconduct. This step would create transparency and accountability in New Jersey’s policing, but faces some sticking points, primarily in whether the boards would have subpoena power. While police unions argue that subpoena power could be abused, bill sponsors and advocates see it as a necessary tool in police accountability. [New Jersey Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
A whopping 76 percent of low-income renters do not receive federal rental assistance, according to new research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. While more than 1.5 million households nationwide have received emergency rental assistance between January and September 2021, more work still needs to be done to address housing insecurity and a history of racist housing policies. Passing the Build Back Better Act and establishing a universal Housing Choice Voucher program would be a good first step in meeting an urgent need to provide safe, stable places to live for the nation’s most marginalized communities. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Ann Oliva]
A must-read editorial by The Star-Ledger highlights how the biggest threat to abortion care in New Jersey — money — was left unaddressed by the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act passed by the Legislature earlier this month. Until new legislation lifts financial barriers to this time-sensitive care, the best way to help those in need is to donate to the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund, which provides financial assistance to those seeking abortion care. [The Star-Ledger / Editorial Board]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Rocket and Groot! During the summer, Rocket enjoys swimming in the kiddie pool and long walks on her leash, and during the winter prefers to hang out by the fireplace. Groot, who had life-saving surgery as a baby, prefers to spend his time playing with toys for hours on end and sprinting full speed through the house making battle cries (especially between 12 am and 4 am). Meow!
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