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: 10,301,669
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,195,284
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
On Wednesday, the Atlantic City Council voted to shut down the Oasis Drop-In Center, the city’s only syringe exchange and one of only seven in the entire state. Run by the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, the syringe exchange provides lifesaving harm reduction services to prevent overdose deaths, stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, and connect people who use drugs to treatment when they’re ready for it. The council voted to shut down Oasis despite an outpouring of support by Atlantic City residents, harm reduction advocates, and public health and medical professionals who warned that people will die as a result of this. And, as Filter Magazine reports here, the council did not allow the CEO of Oasis to testify in what was a truly chaotic meeting. [The Press of Atlantic City / Molly Shelly]
This may come as a surprise to some (especially those who love to cite random moving van companies to “prove” people are “fleeing” the state), but it turns out progressive tax policy is good for the state’s finances. According to a new analysis by Bloomberg, New Jersey was one of the worst performers in the bond market over the last decade. Now, after Governor Murphy raised taxes on millionaires and big corporations, the state’s debt is “the nation’s most desired by investors since 2018.” New Jersey is one of only seven states with an improving economy over the last three-and-a-half years, and out of those states, New Jersey is the only one that’s a national leader in public education and health care. NJPP’s analysts would never say “I told you so,” but I have no problem saying it: We told you so. [Bloomberg / Matthew Winkler]
Starting this month, families with children will receive up to $500 in property tax rebates from the state. Home owners and renters alike will receive the benefit as part of the deal Governor Murphy struck with legislative leaders last year to implement a millionaires’ tax. One big flaw with the checks: Only families who earn enough to pay income taxes qualify for them. “It’s really too bad that those who don’t file taxes are being left behind,” NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson told News 12. “We’re talking about people who make too little to owe any taxes, they are not getting any of this tax credit.” [News 12 / Alex Zdan]
Here’s a big policy win from this year’s budget that’s mostly flown under the radar: New Jersey has expanded its Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to workers between the ages of 18 and 20, and to workers over 65. These changes will make New Jersey’s program — which is already one of the best in the country — even stronger. The tax credit, meant to boost the income of low-paid workers, will also be supplemented by a new, temporary expansion to the federal tax credit under the American Rescue Plan. Some residents remain left behind by the program’s eligibility requirements, however, namely those who file taxes using an Independent Tax Identification Number (ITIN). [NJPP / Vineeta Kapahi]
New Jersey is now the first state in the nation with a plan — and dedicated source of funding — to replace all lead water pipes within the next 10 years. The landmark legislation, signed into law by Governor Murphy on Thursday, marks a shift away from piecemeal approaches towards more comprehensive solutions to lead poisoning. “The new laws recognize that lead is a problem across housing infrastructure, including both water infrastructure and paint,” said NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen. “We are one step closer to ending lead’s toxic legacy in our state thanks to this legislation.” [NorthJersey.com / Dustin Racioppi]
The United States spends billions of public dollars in ways that threaten our shared futures when we could be funding education instead. NJPP’s Mark Weber contributed to this new, interactive tool to show what reallocating these funds can do for our students and communities. Check it out! [Fund Education Instead]
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