While the issue was debated back in Trenton, Gov. Phil Murphy came to North Jersey to argue for his first-in-the-nation Baby Bond proposal.
“There are those that look at times of great social upheaval like these and say we can’t chase a bold idea…tomorrow is always better but not today” said Murphy at a press briefing in Paterson’s Barbour Park Sept. 9. “I think today is exactly the time for bold ideas… whose impacts down the road will be greater than the modest investment we make today.”
The governor’s Baby Bonds proposal in his 2021 budget would provide a $1,000 deposit into an account for every baby born into a household with income less than 500% of the Federal Poverty Level ($131,000 for a family of four) in 2021.
Advanced at the federal level by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Murphy framed the proposal as a critical investment to address longstanding economic and race-based wealth disparities that have only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While COVID-19 has had an enormous financial impact on many New Jersey families, it has laid bare systemic inequities that have disproportionately denied families of color an equal chance to achieve upward mobility,” said Murphy. “To emerge from this crisis as a stronger, fairer, and more resilient state, we need to lay the foundation for the next generation of New Jerseyans to secure their spot in the middle class and break the cycle of economic inequality.”
The proposal requires newborns to either be born in New Jersey or born to parents who are New Jersey residents to be eligible for an account. Bond recipients would have to be New Jersey residents to withdraw funds from their accounts, although they would not have to spend these funds in New Jersey.
The governor’s proposition would have the state establish the Baby Bonds Initiative Fund, which would include individual accounts for eligible residents. Funds in each child’s account would be invested so that they generate returns that are at least equivalent to thirty-year U.S. Treasury bonds. Recipients would be able to withdraw funds when they turn 18 for allowable uses that proponents said could be used for such things as homeownership, higher and continuing education, or entrepreneurship.
Two key backers in the Assembly, Benjie Wimberly (D-35) and William Moen (D-5) spoke in support of the proposal.
“Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing nationwide economic crisis, too many New Jersey families struggled with poverty and a lack of access to educational, social, and economic opportunities,” said Wimberly. “The need for investment in our communities and our children has never been greater. Baby bonds are a down payment on the success of our future generations.”
Moen worked on the federal proposal as a part of Sen. Booker’s staff and has previously proposed his own bill in the Assembly.
“One of the first initiatives I started working on was developing the framework for a Baby Bonds program in the Garden State,” said Moen. “While COVID19 has affected all of our lives in different ways, it has made it ever more clear the need to narrow the income inequality gap and continue to help New Jersey families reach income equity. Now is the time to start this conversation.”
The proposal received a boost from Rep. Bill Pascrell, who lauded the “innovative proposal” as helping create a nest egg for every baby born in New Jersey whose family may struggle to start their child off on the right financial foot.
“As we work to eliminate systemic issues for building wealth and financial well-being exacerbated by this crisis, baby bonds look out for the next generation of New Jerseyans on the horizon,” said Pascrell. “Now, more than ever, we need to empower the next generation to start on a level playing field and give them the tools to build a better world for themselves and their children.”
As of Sept. 9, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 194,990 with 356 new cases and seven new deaths, bringing that total to 14,220. The state probable death count increased to 1,783, bringing the overall total to 16,003.
State officials noted eight deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,892, followed by Bergen at 1,796, Hudson with 1,352, Passaic at 1,106, Morris at 686, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 242, Essex has 229, Hudson has 160, Morris at 144, Passaic at 143, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Sept. 5 was 2.0%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one.
As for the rate of transmission, it remained unchanged from the day before at 1.10. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 423 patients are hospitalized. The north tier had 219 patients hospitalized, the central 83 and the south 121.
Of those hospitalized, 63 are in intensive care units and 31 on ventilators., while 28 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 21,872, followed by Essex at 20,574, Hudson at 20,305, Middlesex at 18,649, Passaic at 18,560, Union at 17,248, Ocean at 11,543, Monmouth at 11,002, Camden at 9,384, Mercer at 8,439, Morris at 7,596, Burlington at 6,623, Somerset at 5,489, Atlantic at 3,840, Gloucester at 3,895, Cumberland at 3,649, Sussex at 1,417, Warren at 1,410, Hunterdon at 1,242, Salem at 1,004 and Cape May at 946.
Another 303 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state.
In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.
A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 48% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 31% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 159 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 9,760 of the cases, broken down between 5,356 residents and 3,268 staff.
Cumulatively, 677 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 24,930 residents and 13,407 staff, for a total of 38,277 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,121 on Sept. 9. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,747 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.