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: 12,645,383
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,094,798
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Who else is exhausted? After a long week where votes slowly trickled in across the state, Governor Phil Murphy was declared the winner of New Jersey’s 2021 gubernatorial election. This broke with 40 years of history, as Governor Murphy became the first Democrat since 1977 to be reelected governor; it was also the first time since 1981 that the party that elected a new president the year prior won a gubernatorial election in either Virginia or New Jersey. Read our take on the results here (spoiler: these results present a historic opportunity to pass progressive policies), and read more about the slow vote count here. [NJ Spotlight News / Colleen O’Dea, Lilo Stainton, John Reitmeyer, and John McAlpin]
Before state lawmakers are sworn into their new seats in January, the Legislature will reconvene for a lame duck session where big-ticket items like police reform, abortion access, and expansions to the social safety net await committee hearings and floor votes. Governor Murphy will also have to act on more than 40 bills that were already passed by the Legislature. Watch this NJ Spotlight News clip, featuring Larry Hamm of the People’s Organization for Progress, on the unfinished business awaiting lawmakers in Trenton. [NJ Spotlight News / Melissa Rose Cooper]
And once lame duck comes to an end, all attention will shift to the next legislative session and new policy priorities. At the top of that list? Getting state leaders to invest in community-backed solutions to crisis response that do not center police. As Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer states in an op-ed announcing the launch of a new campaign to promote alternatives to policing, “[W]hen all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, and police departments have been hammering away at our communities for generations.” Rev. Boyer cites a recent report by NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel showing that, out of all drug arrests in New Jersey, 43 percent were of Black residents despite Black people making up 13 percent of the state’s population and using drugs at the same rate as their white peers. [NJ.com / Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer]
In a new op-ed, NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen outlines how the child tax credit has proven to be a powerful anti-poverty tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy is leaving some of the state’s lowest-income families behind, however, as only 60 percent of eligible households in New Jersey have successfully received their child tax credit payments. The issue? The Internal Revenue Service does not have the necessary data on file to send checks to families with low incomes who do not have to file federal taxes. It’s now up to state and local governments to ensure more families receive their child tax credit benefit and reduce child poverty by publicizing the GetCTC.org nonfiler tool, performing direct outreach, and enhancing free tax preparation for 2022. [NJ Spotlight News / Peter Chen]
In July, the Atlantic City Council voted against the advice of their own health director to close the Oasis Drop-In Center —but the fight isn’t over yet. While the court date for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance’s lawsuit to keep the syringe exchange open is rapidly approaching on November 12, lawmakers also have an opportunity to pass legislation that would remove barriers to harm reduction services like those offered at Oasis. This landmark bill would take the politics out of public health and help end the overdose and HIV/AIDS crises. [BuzzFeed News / Dan Vergano]
Don’t go on Twitter, or be faced with takes galore following the outcome of the election. One take you should definitely read? NJPP’s, of course! “[W]hat’s clear is that Governor Murphy ran — and won — on his record of passing laws that advance equity and build a strong economy for working and middle-class families,” writes yours truly in a statement released this week. [NJPP / Louis Di Paolo]
Pets of NJPP
This is Matty Purrdock, a blind cat (Marvel Comics fans may get the reference) owned by our colleague Jeff Feldman from the National Association of Social Workers – New Jersey. Matty was rescued from the streets of Kuwait and was sent to an animal rescue in New Jersey where he united with the Feldman family. Matty had to have his eyes removed a few months after Jeff and his wife adopted him because of a nasty eye infection. He’s completely healthy now and gets around as well as any sighted cat! Meow!
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