Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
Sign up here.
Vaccine Doses: 14,363,013
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,800,438
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
More than one million New Jersey families benefited from the now-expired federal Child Tax Credit expansion, according to a new report by Rutgers Center for Women and Work. The study found that families spent a majority of the credit on food, clothing, rent, and, for families with young kids, child care. One big red flag: nearly 60 percent of low-income families (earning less than $25,000) said they did not receive the payment. This underscores the need for lawmakers to lower barriers to safety net programs by setting up non-tax filer application portals and boosting outreach and assistance so all eligible residents get the benefits they deserve. [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
There’s a new bill advancing through the Legislature that would severely weaken New Jersey’s bail reform law — a national model that’s been proven to rein in mass incarceration and reduce racial disparities in the prison population. If this sounds bad, that’s because it is: According to New Jersey Public Defender Joseph Krakora, the bill would result in hundreds if not thousands more people being incarcerated even though they do not pose a risk of reoffense. Making matters worse, the proponents of the bill “lack even a shred of evidence” that this bill will do anything to reduce crime, as The Star-Ledger Editorial Board so eloquently wrote a few weeks ago. [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep-seated racial disparities — so the question now is, where do we go from here? For starters, lawmakers should make temporary expansions to the safety net permanent and expand access to health coverage, according to NJPP’s Brittany Holom-Trundy. But racial inequities exposed by COVID-19 have root causes far beyond health care. “You can deal with COVID as a Band-Aid, or you can deal with what’s fueling COVID and HIV and obesity and cardiovascular disease — and that means higher-level issues [like] economic equity,” said Perry Halkitis, Dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health. [NJ Spotlight News / Taylor Jung]
The pandemic not only exposed racial inequities but showed just how underfunded and understaffed New Jersey’s public health infrastructure is. After years of budget cuts at the state level and local levels, New Jersey’s public health workforce is half that of other comparable states, explaining why health officials struggled to meet the needs of their communities during the pandemic. Fortunately, a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) and Nicholson Foundations provides a simple, yet powerful solution: a new, nonprofit public health institute. To help get it up and running, the RWJ Foundation is soliciting applications for a $1 million grant to develop, incubate, and launch the institute. [NorthJersey.com / Lindy Washburn]
New Jersey is one step closer to its first legal cannabis sale, with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission accepting applications for those interested in opening a dispensary. So far, more than 170 businesses have applied (including a CBD store around the corner from me 👀). Still, the application review process means that even those approved to open are likely six to eight months away from making their first sales. “They may start selling by the end of the year… Looking more like early next year,” said Michael DeLoreto, Director at Gibbons’ Government and Regulatory Affairs Department. [NJ.com / Suzette Parmley]
Looking for a breakdown of Governor Murphy’s budget proposal? Well, you’re in luck! A new budget report by NJPP’s dream team of analysts highlights what’s in the budget, what’s missing, and asks: Who do these new programs — looking at you, ANCHOR — make the state affordable for? [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson, Peter Chen, Brittany Holom-Trundy, Marleina Ubel, Mark Weber, and Nicole Rodriguez]
Pets of NJPP
We have a posthumous pet pic this week, courtesy of NJPP Interim President Jon Shure. Ginny was a black Lab who was originally trained for Seeing Eye before she was reunited with the Shure family; Maxine was a Beagle mix. The two pups were great buddies and wonderful companions of the Shure household for more than a decade. Woof!
Have a fact or figure for us? Tweet it to @NJPolicy.