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: 14,471,264
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,888,357
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Earlier this week, Governor Murphy announced his support for new legislation to expand access to abortion care in response to the leaked Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade. The proposals mirror the provisions left out of the Reproductive Freedom Act last year. Together, they would mandate that insurance plans cover abortion with no out-of-pocket costs and create a new fund to train more clinicians to provide abortion care, provide security for abortion clinics, and expand reproductive health services for those who are under- and uninsured. “A person’s ability to access abortion care should not depend on how much money they make,” said Governor Murphy. We couldn’t agree more. [NJ.com / Susan Livio and Brent Johnson]
A 2020 audit of 1 percent of New Jersey businesses found that the state lost nearly half a billion dollars in tax revenue — and workers lost tens of millions of dollars in wages — due to employee misclassification. Here’s how it works: When businesses designate workers as independent contractors instead of employees, it allows them to avoid paying into the state’s unemployment, family leave, and disability funds. It also means that employees are not covered by the state’s minimum wage and overtime laws. “We’re not exactly a strong worker rights country to begin with, so this just further carves out employees, many of whom are lower-income earners, from the protections they deserve,” said NJPP’s Peter Chen. [NorthJersey.com / Katie Sobko]
Speaking of businesses not paying their fair share in taxes, corporate lobbyists are yet again calling on state lawmakers to use federal pandemic relief to prop up the state’s unemployment insurance fund so they don’t have to pay into it. There are two problems here. The first is that federal funds were meant to assist families and communities harmed most by the pandemic — and there are still a lot of people in New Jersey living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet. The second is that this is a fund that businesses are required to pay into, so having the state cover the costs would amount to little more than a $300 million tax break for profitable businesses that don’t need it. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
Unions are having a moment right now, giving workers across the country the best chance they’ve had in decades to fight for better pay, benefits, and workplace protections. In addition to the high-profile unionization campaigns at Starbucks stores and Amazon warehouses across the nation, labor and community groups here in New Jersey are fighting back against a proposed Amazon air cargo hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, citing concerns with Amazon’s poor labor practices and the environmental dangers of additional truck traffic in Newark and Elizabeth. In a statement given to The New York Times, a spokesperson for Governor Murphy indicated that Amazon may have to negotiate with labor groups before a deal moves forward, saying “The governor encourages anyone doing business in our state to work collaboratively with labor partners in good faith.” [The New York Times / Noam Scheiber]
In a new op-ed in The Star-Ledger, Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Essex) calls on Amazon and the Port Authority to consult with community members — and stop fighting unionization efforts — before opening a new air cargo hub at Newark Airport. “If Amazon wants to come to Newark, I believe they should pledge not to fight union organizers at their facilities and make a commitment to labor peace,” said Rep. Payne. [NJ.com / Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Franklin, co-working pup of Lily Reynolds! Franklin, also known as Frankie, is a scientist, enjoys exploring Philly rooftops, and is *not* a fan of meow-ajuana (also known as cat nip). Meow!
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