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: 13,948,160
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,580,266
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
First, some good news: Last night, the Murphy administration announced that the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund will be extended for another month — and that the original $40 million in funding has been restored. The fund, which was cut by $34 million earlier this month, was set to expire at the end of January despite reaching only a fraction of residents excluded from pandemic relief. Even better, the state will also simplify the application process, which immigrants’ rights advocates have long criticized for being too cumbersome. Big shoutout and congrats to all of the immigrant community members and activists who helped make this possible! [NJ.com / Susan Livio]
Now for the not-so-good news: Even with its funding restored, the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund was never big enough to reach all of the residents excluded from COVID-19 relief, according to a must-read report by NJPP Research Director Nicole Rodriguez. The program, initially funded with $40 million in CARES Act dollars and then supplemented with $10 million in American Rescue Plan dollars, would only be able to cover 25,000 individuals or 12,500 households. Nicole’s report finds that the fund would need roughly $1.4 billion to cover the state’s nearly half a million undocumented residents excluded from federal relief. [WHYY / Tennyson Donyéa]
Hundreds of Millions
Last week, Governor Murphy used his inaugural address to highlight more than a dozen tax cuts enacted during his first term, stating his administration delivered “hundreds of millions of dollars in direct tax relief.” Well, the folks at NJ Spotlight News provided a fact check on this claim, and … it’s true! Not only did the Murphy administration provide hundreds of millions of dollars in relief, but they did so in a targeted way that primarily benefits seniors, low- and moderate-income parents, low-paid workers, and college students. Click the link for examples, because there are a lot — including many policies NJPP has reported on and advocated for over the last few years. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
Some more not-so-good news: No legal weed this month — or next! With a self-imposed deadline of the end of February to get the legal cannabis industry up and running, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission says it’s unlikely that recreational sales will begin due to a number of factors, including a lack of municipal buy-in. This deadline seemed to be more aspirational than anything else as there were no clear ways to enforce it, despite pressure from the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association and New Jersey Senate President Nicholas Scutari. [NJ.com / Suzette Parmley]
A groundbreaking new study by a team of investigators from six universities finds that, when mothers with low incomes received just over $300 in monthly cash assistance during the first year of their children’s lives, their infants’ brains displayed more high-frequency brain waves at 12 months old. The expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), which expired last month, provided support very similar to the cash assistance studied in the new paper. Add this to the already long list of reasons why the federal government should reinstate the CTC — and why states like New Jersey should enact their own version of the program. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Danilo Trisi]
Shocking news from earlier this week: Sean Caddle, a political operative who worked for former state Senator Raymond Lesniak, pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire plot of a long-time associate. Adding intrigue to the case, Caddle was never taken into custody and was released to home confinement as “he has been working, collaborating, with the FBI in developing an important investigation.” [NJ.com / Ted Sherman]
Pets of NJPP
Meet NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel’s pet mice, Potato Chip and Soot! Chip is an athlete who loves running on her wheel and climbing. Soot, on the other hand, enjoys eating and cuddling. Chip is quiet and Soot is a little more talkative. They are both very sweet, lots of fun, and eat more than you can imagine. Squeak squeak!
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