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: 11,668,004
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,851,381
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Some big NJPP news: After more than seven years with NJPP, President Brandon McKoy is stepping down at the end of the month to join the senior leadership team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a national think tank that researches and promotes policies to reduce poverty and advance equity. In his new role as Vice President of State Partnerships, Brandon will provide strategic support to think tanks across 41 states (including New Jersey!), Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Read the formal announcement here and click the bracketed link to read more about Brandon’s new job. We’re also throwing Brandon a virtual celebration — more info on that below. [ROI-NJ / Tom Bergeron]
The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act would make the federal tax code more progressive — but only if the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions is kept in place. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson breaks down here, the reconciliation package would raise taxes on the nation’s richest households and biggest corporations to pay for big investments in child care infrastructure, rental assistance, new Medicare benefits, tax credits for working families, and so much more. If the legislation is amended to repeal the SALT cap, it would offset all of the revenue raised by the income tax changes in the bill with nearly all of the benefits going to the richest 20 percent of households. [NJPP / Sheila Reynertson]
Racial Wealth Gap
Earlier this week, NJPP’s Sheila Reynertson joined NJ Spotlight News for their “NJ Decides 2021: Election Conversations” series. In the discussion on the state’s finances and pandemic response, Sheila made clear that federal aid from the American Rescue Plan should be targeted to those harmed most by the pandemic, and that future state budgets should prioritize investments that help close the racial wealth gap. [NJ Spotlight News]
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that COVID-19 rates were approximately 40 percent lower in schools that improved their ventilation systems. But as NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen notes here, preventing the spread of the pandemic is only one of many benefits of improved indoor air quality in schools. Research shows that improved air quality also results in improved student and staff well-being, and better academic performance. Fortunately, there’s funding available through the American Rescue Plan for schools to improve their ventilation systems — but only if local school boards apply for it. [NJPP / Peter Chen]
The Oasis Drop-In Center, Atlantic City’s only syringe exchange program, lives to see at least another month after a New Jersey Superior Court judge stopped the city from shutting down the harm reduction center. The court order, issued Wednesday in response to a new lawsuit filed by the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, restricts the city from enforcing an ordinance that would shut down the program effective October 12. Harm reduction centers like Oasis are a proven public health tool for preventing overdose deaths and stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. Atlantic City has one of the highest HIV counts in the state, largely as a result of injection drug use. [The Press of Atlantic City / Molly Shelly]
Want to celebrate Brandon McKoy’s tenure with NJPP? Join us later this month as we honor his leadership and vision at a free virtual celebration! Click the link to register now — and make sure to check out the perks that come with a sponsorship. [NJPP / Celebration of Progress Honoring Brandon McKoy]
Pets of NJPP
Meet the newest member of the Peeples family: Dotty-Dot! As you can see, his spots (dots?) make him a handsome fellow. Dotty-Dot loves carrots, snuggles, and obstacle courses. And when he’s in the mood for a snack, dried pineapple is his favorite; cucumbers, not so much. Thanks for the submission, Elena!
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