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: 14,612,595
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,964,791
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Remember when the Legislature introduced and passed a $50 billion budget bill within 30 minutes? That was more than two weeks ago, and the Legislature has yet to publicly release lawmakers’ budget resolutions detailing their additional spending requests. Add this to the list of ways New Jersey’s budget process skirts transparency and shields lawmakers from any semblance of accountability. “Nobody knows who made the requests, and the intention is to prevent the public from knowing — certainly they already have — in time to have any input or do anything about it,” said Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
Earlier this week, New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin announced the creation of a Reproductive Rights Strike Force to enforce state laws protecting abortion access. The team, comprised of members of the Attorney General’s Office and the state police, will develop and implement strategies to protect those seeking abortion care, whether they’re from New Jersey or out of state. Roxanne Sutocky of the Cherry Hill Women’s Center commended the move, saying “We think that it’s an important countermeasure to the new abortion landscape that we are experiencing in this country after the fall of Roe,” [WHYY / P. Kenneth Burns]
No surprise here: The 23 states that have banned or greatly restricted access to abortion care are also the states that do the least for children and families, according to a new analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). The ITEP study shows that the states that ban abortion and force childbirth are also among those that: spend the least on education, do not have child tax credits, are the least likely to assist low-income parents, have the lowest minimum wages; and do not have paid family or sick leave. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy / Amy Hanauer]
New Jersey’s share of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill should go toward combatting climate change and reducing emissions, according to a new op-ed by Maria Lopez-Nuñez of the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC). In the op-ed, Maria outlines a way for New Jersey to advance climate justice and prioritize neighborhoods overburdened by pollution from past infrastructure policy decisions. Specifically, the ICC recommends using at least 40 percent of funds to reverse the damage done by existing energy infrastructure, funding schools to become more energy efficient, transitioning to zero-emission mass transit, funding green infrastructure projects, supporting bike- and pedestrian-oriented developments, and much more. [NJ.com / Maria Lopez-Nuñez]
A new study by researchers at Rutgers University suggests using traffic cameras to reduce racial disparities in police stops. The study found that, out of the 232,000 traffic stops made by the New Jersey State Police in the first six months of 2021, 23 percent involved Black drivers despite Black people only making up 12 percent of the state’s population. NJPP’s Marleina Ubel told WHYY that traffic cameras are worth considering if they will reduce interactions with police, but warned that there could be unintended consequences depending on how it’s implemented: “The last thing we’d want to do is set up a system that targets people of color with fines and fees.” [WHYY / Tennyson Donyéa]
NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson was quoted on the front page of The Star-Ledger earlier this week, detailing how Atlantic City residents do not benefit from the casinos that dominate the resort town’s local economy: “From the onset, the laws governing New Jersey’s casino industry were never meant to build up the city or support its residents, but to enrich the casino industry at the expense of everyone else.” [NJ.com / Vashti Harris and Ted Sherman]
Want to celebrate 25 years of NJPP with us? Well, today is your last chance to take advantage of early registration pricing for our upcoming gala and policy conference! Click the link to register now! [NJPP / Celebrate 25]
Pets of NJPP
NJPP’s Peter Chen took a closer look at the pictures from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and found something that took us all by surprise: NJPP’s (un)official mascot, Mathy! Does this anthropomorphic graph in space confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life? We’ll leave it to NASA to decide. (And if you’re wondering where the pets went and have one you’d like featured here, email me a photo and some fun facts at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
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