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: 10,205,616
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,150,751
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
This is a milestone week! On Thursday, the first payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit went out to families with children across the country. The monthly payments — up to $300 per child — were a key pillar of the American Rescue Plan and will help millions of families, including 1.6 million in New Jersey, cover the costs of raising kids. As NJPP’s Vineeta Kapahi notes here, the benefit will expire after one year, so it’s now up to Congress to make it permanent. And, as NJPP’s Peter Chen highlights here, up to 55,000 kids in New Jersey may miss out on the payment because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may not have their information on file; that can and should be addressed with state-funded outreach campaigns. [NorthJersey.com / Ashley Balcerzak]
How many New Jersey residents live in poverty? According to the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), the metric often used to determine eligibility for safety net programs: 800,000 New Jerseyans. This number, representing more than 9 percent of the population, is pretty high — but it is also severely undercounts the state’s true level of poverty. According to a new landmark report by Legal Services of New Jersey, nearly 3 million New Jersey residents live in poverty once you account for the state’s cost of living. Click the link for a summary of the report and why the one-size-fits-all FPL falls short of measuring true poverty. [NJ Spotlight News / Joanna Gagis]
Last month, ProPublica released an explosive investigative report detailing how many of the nation’s wealthiest individuals pay little-to-no income tax each year. This happens because the federal tax code is outdated and no longer reflects how the nation’s richest people earn most of their money: capital gains, dividends, and “pass-through” income. To address these flaws in the tax code, a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recommends federal lawmakers 1) make unrealized capital gains taxable each year, 2) reduce tax breaks tied to the income of the wealthiest households, and 3) bolster other taxes that fall heavily on wealthy households, like the corporate income and estate taxes. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Chuck Marr]
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Nearly one in four adults across the country struggle with paying for the prescription medicine they need. To rein in the cost of prescription drugs, federal lawmakers — including Rep. Andy Kim (NJ-3) — are championing legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription prices. NJPP’s Brittany Holom-Trundy joined Rep. Kim at a press conference earlier this week, where she made the point that, “When added on top of other inequities, [unaffordable prescription drugs] worsen disparities and further harm public health across the state.” [NJ Spotlight News / Melissa Rose Cooper]
More than 88,000 marijuana cases have been dismissed under New Jersey’s new marijuana legalization and decriminalization laws. This brings thousands of residents and their families one step closer to living their lives without a criminal record. According to the state judiciary, an additional 270,000 cases will be dismissed over the next few months. One important caveat: vacated and dismissed cases still need to be expunged, but the state will begin the expungement process in the next few months, according to the judiciary. [NJ.com / Susan Livio and Brent Johnson]
The NJPP team is growing — want to be a part of it? We are currently looking for a Movement Communications Strategist to develop and execute a long-term communications plan for a new racial justice coalition that we’re a part of. Think you have the vision and skills to take this on? Click the link for info on the position (including salary range) and how to apply. [NJPP / Career Opportunities]
Big congrats to NJPP President Brandon McKoy! This week, Brandon was named to NJBIZ’s Next Generation of Leaders for 2021, as well as Insider NJ’s Insider 100: Cannabis Power List, which also featured Jenna Mellor, author of NJPP’s latest drug policy report. Congrats to Brandon, Jenna, and all of our friends and partners featured on both lists! [Insider NJ] [NJBIZ]
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