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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Public service announcement: Early voting starts tomorrow in New Jersey! Polls are open Saturday, October 29 through Sunday, November 6, and each county will have at least three polling locations (see the list here, courtesy of the state Division of Elections). Poll hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Sunday when they’re open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Remember to make a plan to vote if you haven’t already! [NorthJersey.com / Katie Sobko]
The deadline to complete applications for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund has been extended to November 30. To be clear, this extension applies to the 15,000 applicants who have yet to submit all their required documents, not to those who have yet to apply. So, while this extension will make it possible for more essential workers to complete their applications and receive their rightful aid, New Jersey can and should do more to fund relief programs so nobody is left behind in the state’s pandemic recovery. [New Jersey Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Muñoz]
Recognizing that quality child care requires healthy and safe facilities, the Murphy administration announced it will use federal American Rescue Plan funds to update and upgrade child care centers as they recover from the ongoing pandemic. The first round of funding includes $15 million for child care centers that serve families receiving Child Care Assistance Program subsidies. These investments will not only improve outcomes for children and teachers but help create robust child care infrastructure so New Jersey remains one of the best states to raise a family. [NJ Spotlight News / Raven Santana]
Workers will see a slight bump in their take-home pay as the Murphy administration will lower employee contributions to the state’s family leave and temporary disability insurance programs. The change — made possible by a surplus of funds and lagging utilization of the programs — will save workers an average of $111.50 in 2023. While this move will bring savings to working families, Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo worries the decline signals that “workers may be missing the opportunity to utilize these vital programs.” [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
The push for reparations in New Jersey continues, as Taylor Jung details here in her coverage of the “Say the Word” campaign. The crux of the campaign: To fully reckon with the legacy of slavery, lawmakers must first say the word — reparations — and have an honest conversation on compensating Black residents for the ongoing socioeconomic harms of slavery, including but not limited to the widening racial wealth gap. “Although the wealth gap is part of the challenge, it’s a function of a broader system of structural racism, rooted in slavery,” said Ryan Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. [NJ Spotlight News / Taylor Jung]
The high cost of “free” representation leaves low-income residents in debt and influences how they navigate New Jersey’s justice system, according to research by NJPP Policy Analyst Marleina Ubel released earlier this week. Looking at the state’s fee schedule for public defenders, Marleina details how public defenders can cost clients upwards of $1,000 and how that exacerbates inequities in our justice system. The main takeaway: To have a fairer justice system, the state should eliminate all public defender fees and fund residents’ constitutional right to an attorney like our neighboring states do. [NJPP / Marleina Ubel]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Louie! He lives in North Carolina but visits New Jersey often to see his in-laws and take long walks on the towpath. He loves to cuddle and is always making new friends. He is still taking suggestions for a Halloween costume. Woof!
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