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: 9,124,192
Fully Vaccinated People: 4,514,515
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
The biggest winners from Tuesday’s primary election? Candidates on “the line.” Every single legislative candidate running on the line — meaning the column or row of party-endorsed candidates on the ballot — won their election, regardless of whether they were an incumbent or challenger. As NJPP has previously reported, New Jersey is the only state in the nation that organizes its primary ballots this way; every other state organizes their ballots by the position candidates are running for. In this News 12 segment, NJPP President Brandon McKoy breaks down how the line provides a big advantage to party-backed candidates. [News 12 New Jersey]
The state’s revenue collections are coming in much stronger than initially projected, according to revenue forecasts released this week by Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio. The new forecast adds $4 billion in revenue to the current fiscal year, which runs through the end of the month, and an additional $1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. In total, the state is expected to open the new fiscal year with $10 billion in budget reserves. This provides state lawmakers with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address racial and economic inequities laid bare by the pandemic. The big story over the next few weeks will be how lawmakers decide to invest these funds. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
Confidential tax return data obtained by ProPublica finds that some of the nation’s richest individuals — including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn, and George Soros — paid zero federal income taxes for years. The bombshell report highlights just how easy it is for billionaires to *legally* avoid paying their fair share in taxes. ProPublica also compares the taxes paid by the richest 25 U.S. residents for the years 2014 through 2018 with how much their wealth grew during that time period to find their true tax rate. By this measure, Warren Buffet paid the lowest true tax rate at 0.10 percent; Jeff Bezos paid 0.98 percent; and Michael Bloomberg paid 1.30 percent. [ProPublica / Kesse Eisiger, Jeff Ernsthausen, and Paul Kiel]
Nearly half of those who have yet to get vaccinated — 48 percent — are worried about missing work and income due to the side effects, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Fortunately, there’s a bill in the Legislature that would provide paid sick days to workers who miss time because of the pandemic, whether it’s from being sick, quarantining, or getting vaccinated. According to the bill sponsors, this program would come at no additional cost to the state as it would be funded with federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan. [NJ.com / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
A new poll finds that the vast majority of voters, 83 percent, believe the War on Drugs has been a failure. Two-thirds of voters, 66 percent, support eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession altogether and, instead, reinvesting resources into treatment and addiction services. “A different reality — one where we treat people who use drugs with dignity and respect, and one where drugs are no longer an excuse for law enforcement to surveil, harass, assault and even kill Black, Latinx and Indigenous people — is 100 percent possible, and these results clearly prove that,” said Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. [Drug Policy Alliance]
It’s not too late to register for Progress 2021: Reimagining Public Safety! This discussion will explore ways to transform our criminal and legal systems from ones premised on punishment to ones that center restorative justice, healing, and harm reduction. Click the link to register! [NJPP / Progress 2021]
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