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: 14,340,084
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,787,037
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Budget season is back! Earlier this week, Governor Murphy unveiled his $48.9 billion budget proposal in front of the Legislature — the first in-person budget address since the start of the pandemic. The budget includes a lot of good stuff: a full pension payment, more funding for schools and Pre-K expansion, no fare hike for NJ Transit, a healthy surplus, and a new property tax relief program to replace the Homestead rebate. The NJPP team has been busy crunching numbers on the proposal since it was released (including who benefits the most, and who is left behind), so keep an eye out for a robust analysis coming out next week. Until then, you can read our statement here from NJPP Interim President Jon Shure. [NJ.com / Derek Hall]
More good budget news: Governor Murphy’s budget proposes a new relief fund for workers excluded from federal pandemic assistance. The program would provide one-time $500 payments to workers who file taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), benefitting approximately 80,000 households across the state. This is a big step toward a fairer recovery and something the state could build on by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to ITIN filers. [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan becoming law. The expansive pandemic recovery legislation included a big expansion to the Child Tax Credit, which helped more than 1 million families and lifted roughly 89,000 children out of poverty. The bad news? The Child Tax Credit expansion expired and has yet to be renewed by Congress. While there’s still time for Congress to act and make the expansion permanent, state lawmakers do not have to wait to act: A state-level Child Tax Credit based on the federal program would similarly help families meet the high costs of raising kids, making the Garden State affordable for all. [NJ.com / J.D. Salant]
Remember how funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) were meant to help workers and families harmed most by the pandemic? Well, there’s a new bill advancing through the Legislature that would use ARP funds to give businesses a big tax break by earmarking $580 million in federal relief to replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund — a fund that businesses are supposed to pay into. NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson slammed the proposal in a legislative hearing earlier this week, calling it “worse than short-sighted. It’s inequitable and it’s insulting to the essential workforce.” [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
The 2020 census undercounted Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American residents, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau. While the report contains no state-level data, the undercount likely impacted New Jersey’s census count more than other places given the state’s diversity (even with the undercount, more than 48 percent of New Jersey residents are people of color). An undercount means that New Jersey will receive less than its fair share in federal funding and that our state and congressional districts will not adequately reflect the state’s true diversity. All of this is to say, New Jersey lawmakers need to start planning for the 2030 census right now so this doesn’t happen again. [NPR / Hansi Lo Wang]
NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen appeared on NJ Spotlight News to provide live analysis and commentary on Governor Murphy’s budget address. Click the link for Peter’s perspective on the Murphy administration’s tax and budget policy decisions during the pandemic and ways the state could do a better job making sure the families hurting the most are prioritized in this year’s budget. [NJ Spotlight News]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Sheila Reynertson’s cat, Mercury! He was a feral creature for his first year of life, so embracing all the comforts of domestication has been a slow process. He loves to flop down on his back for a good armpit massage, but still won’t sit on anyone’s lap. He has long preferred to sleep on floors, so only recently did he discover the cool pleasure of an empty sink. Meow!
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