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: 12,150,769
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,996,423
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
This upcoming election will be the first in New Jersey history with early voting — but there won’t be nearly as many early voting sites as lawmakers budgeted for in the state’s new early voting law. While the state will reimburse counties for the cost of early voting sites, 15 of the state’s 21 counties are planning on opening fewer polling places than the state is willing to pay for. Only one county, Mercer, is spending its own money to open an additional polling place. [New Jersey Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
On Wednesday, Governor Murphy announced plans to allocate $200 million dollars toward parks, playgrounds, and other green spaces across the state. While COVID-19 has emphasized the need for public outdoor spaces, this announcement also comes on the heels of NJPP’s latest report, which recommends deeper investment in community care — including parks and green spaces — to promote public safety. When communities invest in parks and green spaces, they see a decrease in violent crime, improvement in health outcomes, and a sense of connectedness for residents. [NJ 101.5 / Michael Symons]
9 in 10
According to the latest U.S. Census Pulse Survey, nine in ten families with low incomes (less than $35,000) are using their monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments for basic household expenses like food, clothing, shelter, and utilities. This data, which also shows that CTC payments are barely being used for leisure or going into savings, underscores the need for cash payments for families so they can meet the most basic of needs. The data also shows that only 16 percent of families with young children are using the CTC payments for child care. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities / Claire Zippel]
The return of in-person learning comes with the return of kids taking diesel-fuel-powered buses to get to school. This is a big public health and environmental concern, as diesel exhaust not only pollutes the air but also triggers health problems — especially for children. Fortunately, Senator Patrick Diegnan plans on introducing new legislation to provide $15 million to fund electric school bus purchases in six districts per year for three years. As NJPP outlined in a March 2021 report, transitioning to electric buses will help alleviate New Jersey’s contribution to the climate crisis, make our air cleaner, and our communities healthier. [NJ 101.5 / Jen Ursillo]
Earlier this week, NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel joined Salvation and Social Justice in Elizabeth for the launch of the Make The Right C.A.L.L. campaign to remove police from behavioral health crisis responses. As Marleina said in the press conference, it’s time to take a more holistic view of public safety that isn’t premised on punishment. Click the link to watch a recording of the event. [Salvation and Social Justice / Facebook Live]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Chester, courtesy of my good friend Max Randall. Chester likes hanging out in the sun and contemplating the meaning of life. When Chester was a kitten, he enjoyed napping in Max’s baseball hats, but now that he’s bigger he prefers sleeping under the covers. Meow!
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