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: 12,364,347
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,040,162
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
It’s no secret that New Jersey has the best bagels and pizza, but a new article by Slate makes an even bolder (and equally true) claim: New Jersey is the best-run state in the nation. Pointing to the state’s pandemic response, relatively strong social safety net, and a slew of economic policies meant to boost the pay and well-being of low- and middle-class workers, Slate lifts up the Garden State as “a model of how to run a government that can respond to the United States’ myriad problems, old and new.” Specifically, the article lifts up policies like guaranteed paid sick days, raising the minimum wage, the millionaires’ tax, and legalizing marijuana as steps other states can take to build an economy that works for everyone. [Slate / Ben Mathis-Lilley]
With state and local politics increasingly nationalized, property taxes remain one of the biggest issues here in New Jersey. But, as WNYC’s Nancy Solomon points out here, conventional wisdom about who or what policies actually lower property taxes aren’t always true. “There’s a public perception that former Governor Chris Christie lowered taxes and Murphy is a tax-and-spend liberal,” Solomon writes. “But the numbers tell a different story. Property taxes went up by 18% in Christie’s first term, compared to 4% during the Murphy Administration.” How could this be possible? Because policies that make the tax code fairer — looking at you, millionaires’ tax — provide substantial aid to local school districts, taking the burden off property taxpayers. [Gothamist / Nancy Solomon]
9 in 10
Open enrollment is right around the corner! Starting this upcoming Monday, residents across the state will be able to purchase health insurance through Get Covered New Jersey, the state-run market for buying health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The good news: nine out of ten people who buy insurance on the state market will receive substantial subsidies from the state and federal government, and nearly half will be able to purchase “silver” level plans for $10 or less a month. All of this is to say the state marketplace remains a big success at keeping coverage affordable and easily accessible. [NorthJersey.com / Lindy Washburn]
Now for some not-so-great news: approximately 320,000 New Jersey residents are at risk of losing their Medicaid health coverage in 2022 if federal pandemic relief policies are allowed to expire. Fortunately, as NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom-Trundy notes here, state lawmakers can take action to protect low-income residents if Medicaid’s continuous coverage ends. Potential state policies include using a 12-month timeline for disenrollments, making the redetermination easier to navigate, and improving data sharing across departments so the state can efficiently auto-renew Medicaid applications. [NJPP / Brittany Holom-Trundy]
As New Jersey’s population grows more diverse, its elected officials become less representative of the constituents they represent. And this is no accident, writes NJPP Research Director Nicole Rodriguez in a new blog that breaks down why New Jersey needs to expand democracy. To have state and local governments that truly represent “we the people,” New Jersey must extend voting rights to more residents, abolish “the line” on primary ballots, and create a fairer, more inclusive redistricting process. [NJPP / Nicole Rodriguez]
How do we recover from the pandemic and advance equity in the Garden State? NJPP’s Blueprint to Secure a Just Recovery provides a roadmap of 65 policies to do just that. Watch our new promo video explaining what the Blueprint is and what a fair and just pandemic recovery looks like. [NJPP / YouTube]
Pets of NJPP
We have a holiday-themed pet duo this week, courtesy of NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom-Trundy. As you can see, Mason the Dragon and Elvis the Shark are very excited to celebrate Howl-oween this weekend! Their favorite treats are anything with peanut butter. Their favorite trick is “give paw.” Elvis is very concerned about whether the deer are going to get their pup-kins before the big day, and Mason is ready to use his magical slobber power to protect them. Rawr!
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