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: 14,538,923
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,926,231
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Earlier this week, Governor Murphy announced a deal with legislative leaders to expand his ANCHOR property tax proposal with bigger tax credits and so it includes more renters. This is an improvement over the original proposal as hundreds of thousands more renters would be newly eligible for tax relief. However, this program alone will not make the state more affordable for the state’s lowest-paid working families. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen told WHYY, there are a number of other proposals being considered by the Legislature — to expand cash assistance, increase tax credits for low-paid workers, and establish a state-level Child Tax Credit — that would better target relief to the families who need the most help. [WHYY / Tennyson Donyéa]
Big news out of Jersey City: Mayor Steven Fulop announced earlier this week that the city is raising its minimum wage for municipal workers to $20 an hour! The increase, which will directly benefit roughly 250 workers, could help raise the pay for many more. Whenever a big employer, whether it’s a local government or corporation, raises their wages, other employers will feel pressure to do the same to compete for workers. Shout out to Jersey City for once again setting the standard for others to follow; the city was the first in the state to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour back in 2016. [NJ.com / Haresh Oudhnarine]
Speaking of wages, dozens of essential workers took to the State House on Thursday to urge lawmakers to fund hazard pay for those who risked their health at the height of the pandemic so others could safely social distance at home. In an open letter to Governor Murphy and legislative leaders, the workers and representatives from unions and pro-worker organizations pointed to other states as examples of how the state could set up such a fund. “We have all heard the accolades describing essential workers as ‘heroes.’ Yes, this is nice and true, but these kind words do not pay the bills or reduce the risks,” NJPP President Nicole Rodriguez told WRNJ. [WRNJ / Jay Edwards]
Remember NJPP’s report from a few weeks ago detailing the sky-high injury rate at Amazon warehouses? It already prompted calls for an investigation from Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden), and now it has The Star-Ledger Editorial board asking: Why hasn’t the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated Amazon yet? From the editorial: “Jeff Bezos vowed to make Amazon the ‘Earth’s Safest Place to Work.’ So why, according to OSHA’s own data, do its warehouses seem like some of the least safe?” [The Star-Ledger / Editorial Board]
In 2018, a law signed by then-Governor Christie required the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services to prepare and publicly post a statement measuring how any criminal justice bill would impact New Jersey’s communities of color. At the time, the legislation was hailed as a necessary part of reducing the state’s worst-in-the-nation Black-white prison population disparity. Why, then, has this statute been ignored, most recently on a proposal to roll back New Jersey’s bail reform law? It’s a great question, posed here by NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel, and one without a clear answer. [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
The Legislature voted on a flurry of bills on Thursday, including the “Easy Enrollment” bill that will make it much easier for uninsured residents to find high-quality, affordable health coverage — all by checking a box on their taxes! Big congrats to all of the health care advocates and policy experts who made this possible, including NJPP’s Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom-Trundy. [Twitter / NJPP]
Pets of NJPP
Okay, so this isn’t a pet, but it is a picture worth sharing! Everyone driving to the State House this week was greeted with a special billboard message from essential workers across the state: Hazard pay now!
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