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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The economy has changed a lot in the 21st century yet state tax codes haven’t kept up, with profits made in the digital space going largely untaxed. Lawmakers in Maryland tried to fix this problem with a new tax on digital advertising, but that law was ruled unconstitutional last month in a blow to tax fairness. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson details here, state lawmakers — in Maryland, here in New Jersey, and across the nation — should instead focus on taxing big tech’s accumulation of our personal data, as well as the profits derived from it. [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson]
In the first annual report by the new prison Ombudsperson, the office cited 12,411 complaints from people who are incarcerated, including reports that staff assaulted them, ignored requests for medical care, and retaliated against them for raising concerns about ongoing issues in the prison. As if the nature of the complaints isn’t alarming enough, the number of complaints is only 334 fewer than the total number of people incarcerated in the state’s prisons. The highest rate of complaints came from the historically abusive Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, where calls tripled the daily population. Going forward, the Ombudsperson will seek new ways to improve the state prison grievance system; the office is also looking into finding a new office outside of the Department of Corrections so they have more autonomy and can operate as a watchdog without potential conflicts of interest. [New Jersey Monitor / Dana DiFilippo]
At least 283 people in New Jersey died from bacterial infections related to injection drug use in 2019, according to a new report released by the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. These infections are painful, deadly, costly to treat — and totally preventable if the state increased access to sterile needles, safer injection supplies, and non-judgemental health care for people who use drugs. In 2019, bacterial infections accounted for 1,967 emergency room visits and 7,310 inpatient hospital stays, totaling more than $1 billion in hospital charges, most of which were paid with public dollars since most patients were covered by Medicaid or Medicare. [Gothamist / Caroline Lewis]
Between 2016 and 2018, at least 125 people in New Jersey died as a direct result of pregnancy or birth, according to a new report from the state’s Department of Health released Thursday. During the years reviewed in the report, Black and Hispanic/Latinx people continued to suffer much higher mortality rates than their white counterparts. These alarming statistics underscore New Jersey’s ranking as one of the worst states in the nation for maternal deaths and racial disparities for both maternal and infant mortality. The report also found that 90 percent of these deaths were preventable, highlighting the urgent need for affordable, high-quality pre- and post-natal care for all who need it — a core pillar of First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ initiative. [NJ Spotlight News / Lilo H. Stainton]
Big congratulations to NJPP’s Marleina Ubel for being named to Insider NJ’s Insider 100 Cannabis Power List! There are lots of friendly faces on the list, so make sure to check it out by clicking the link. [Insider NJ / Jay Lassiter]
TikTok of NJPP
Instead of a pet, this week we’re sharing a new TikTok from NJPP’s Peter Chen on the state’s ongoing child care crisis. As Peter explains in the video, child care is unaffordable, the industry is understaffed, and child care workers are underpaid. Watch the video by clicking the link, and consider giving us a follow! [NJPP / Peter Chen]
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