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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COVID-19 Cases: 732,560 | Deaths: 21,340
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Big news this week: On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. The $1.9 trillion relief bill will help the U.S. economy recover from the pandemic with direct relief payments, extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance, tax credits for workers and families, aid for state and local governments (more on that below), and so much more. These investments are targeted to those most harmed by the pandemic, recognizing that what’s best for workers and families is ultimately what’s best for the economy. Read this short report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for a breakdown of the law’s major provisions. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
New Jersey will finally receive some much-needed federal relief! The American Rescue Plan includes $10.2 billion for state and local governments in New Jersey to pay for COVID-related costs and make up for revenue shortfalls. Approximately $6.4 billion will go directly to the state, while county and municipal governments will receive $3.6 billion. This aid will help prevent drastic layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and other essential public employees, prevent cuts to critical services and safety net programs, and help people and small businesses who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and recession. [NorthJersey.com / Stacey Barchenger]
Among New Jersey’s young adults, Latino men are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than any other demographic group, according to new groundbreaking reporting by WNYC/Gothamist. While Latino men comprise only 12 percent of New Jersey’s young adult population, they account for 43 percent of confirmed COVID-19 fatalities among adults under 50 years old. As NJPP has previously reported, Latinos are overrepresented in the state’s essential workforce; they are also the least likely to have health insurance, as undocumented immigrants are excluded from most private and public health insurance programs. This article is a must-read, especially for folks still on the fence about whether undocumented immigrants should qualify for pandemic relief. [Gothamist / Karen Yi]
After the pandemic exposed some enormous gaps in New Jersey’s public health infrastructure, Governor Murphy’s budget proposal looks to close them by boosting health insurance enrollment, covering all kids, and staffing up the state Health Department. The budget includes $25 million to reduce monthly premiums in the individual market and $20 million to enroll the remaining 88,000 uninsured children in the state. The Cover All Kids initiative expands eligibility for NJ FamilyCare, the state’s Medicaid program, by raising the income threshold and opening up the program to all children regardless of their immigration status. “The proposal is a strong effort to meet the needs of the moment and help New Jersey recover from COVID,” said NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom-Trundy. [NorthJersey.com / Susan Livio]
With the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) enforcement budget down more than 20 percent since 2010, the federal government is projected to lose $7.5 trillion over the next decade from people cheating on their taxes. According to Chye-Ching Huang of the Tax Policy Center at NYU Law, “the wealthiest are the prime beneficiaries of the status quo.” The top 1 percent of filers account for at least 28 percent — and as much as 70 percent — of the gap between taxes owed and taxes paid. Restoring funding for the IRS would not only fix this problem but also pay for itself. [The New York Times / Chye-Ching Huang]
NJPP was pleased to join the New Jersey Hospital Association in launching the #ImaBigShot website to provide comprehensive vaccine information as eligibility expands to more residents. Vaccines are essential to ending the pandemic and having a strong recovery. Click through for more info. [New Jersey Hospital Association / I’m a Big Shot]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Charlie, Staci Berger’s co-working pup and the luckiest dog around. If you’ve ever been on a Zoom call with Staci, you have probably seen Charlie wander in and/or heard him snoring. He’s a rescue mix from West Virginia, approximately 10 years old, a thief of any food left unattended — and he’s especially partial to sneaking sips of coffee, wine, and sometimes scotch even though he isn’t 21 years old yet.
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