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: 13,207,553
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,143,092
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Big news! Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBB), President Biden’s $1.85 trillion social and climate spending bill. As written, this bill would make historic investments to reduce poverty, expand affordable health coverage, reduce homelessness and housing instability, phase in universal pre-kindergarten, and promote clean energy. To pay for these investments, the legislation would make the federal tax code fairer by setting a 15 percent minimum tax rate for corporations, adding a surcharge on corporate stock buybacks, and adding an eight percent surtax for those making more than $25 million per year in income. [Vox/ Li Zhou]
New Jersey’s police departments are nowhere near representative of the diverse communities they are sworn to protect, according to a groundbreaking report on police diversity by NJ Advance Media. The report’s main finding: the collective police force in New Jersey — one of the most diverse states in the nation — is 74 percent white, despite white residents making up only 54 percent of the state’s population. At least 65 police departments do not have a single person of color on their police force, while 159 do not have any Black officers. Click the link to read more and explore police diversity in your town. [NJ.com / Payton Guion, Rodrigo Torrejón, and Riley Yates]
As state and local governments explore community-led alternatives to policing, the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) presents an unprecedented opportunity to invest in programs that will increase public health and safety while decreasing the need for police intervention. According to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the ARP offers flexible funds for state and local governments to invest in a more holistic approach to public safety, including mental health services, education, housing assistance, traffic safety, job training, and much more. [NJPP / Marleina Ubel]
Legislation to expand harm reduction services and decriminalize syringes advanced through committee on Monday, despite opposition from Republican lawmakers. Taken together, these bills would help New Jersey end the overdose and HIV crises. And the legislation couldn’t come at a better time: approximately 2,800 New Jersey residents have died from overdoses so far this year, on pace for a record high. As NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel told the committee, “Harm reduction programs reduce the risk of overdose as those who have access to these programs are five times more likely to start drug treatment programs and three times more likely to stop chaotic substance use.” [New Jersey Monitor / Dana DiFilippo]
State lawmakers are poised to expand New Jersey’s film and digital tax credit program — for the second time since restarting it in 2018 — by letting studios exceed the $100 million annual cap on tax credits. The problem? These sorts of tax credits are not a sustainable way to grow the economy. The jobs subsidized by these tax breaks are temporary positions due to the nature of the film industry and will leave once another state offers a more generous tax credit package. As Pat Garofalo from the American Economic Liberties Project says here, this is a hopeless race to the bottom that New Jersey should avoid. [Politico / Matt Friedman]
Public service announcement: tenants seeking rent relief have until December 15 to apply for assistance. Click the link for more info on eligibility criteria and how to apply. [New Jersey Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
Pets of NJPP
Found on the streets of South Philly, now living in woodsy Absecon, this ten-month-old kitty was named Pizza by her rescue mom and dad. Adopted by her grandparents, Debbie and George, Pizza is thankful for her living room window as she views the falling leaves and busy squirrels. A greeter cat to the core, sweet Pizza is anxiously awaiting her first Thanksgiving dinner, but she insists her turkey is pâté style. No bits, pieces, or chunks for this growing Jersey girl. Meow!
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