As more and more New Jerseyans get vaccinated and COVID infection rates and hospitalizations start dropping, plans are in the works to expand the pace of re-opening of the Garden State.

In anticipation, the nonpartisan progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective has released its Blueprint to Secure a Just Recovery.

The authors of the report say the idea is to put forth a guide for pandemic recovery within an anti-racist framework that includes reducing the racial wealth gap, eliminating poverty and realizing equity in every corner of the state.

NJPP president Brandon McKoy said as we advance “out of the great challenge and crisis brought on by the pandemic, we need to be making decisions that will ensure that our recovery is both strong and inclusive.”

He said there are communities in New Jersey that don’t have access to social programs and resources.

“A perfect example of this is many immigrant communities and individuals are barred from accessing programs,” he said.

He said some people argue “immigrants don’t pay in, they don’t contribute — nothing can be further from the truth. They absolutely do: They pay taxes, they contribute to our economy, they contribute to our communities.”

He said if we don’t make sure these individuals are included in the state recovery, we will have a weaker recovery.

McKoy also said as we move ahead spending for social programs must be increased, not cut.

“We’re not going to somehow reduce investments in vital programs or vital assets like transportation or education or housing or infrastructure and expect for everything to be OK.”

“We need to make sure that we are recovering from this moment with eyes wide open and addressing the many disparities that we see, that we’ve known about for decades but that really reared their ugly head over the course of the pandemic," he added.

He said New Jersey must have a tax structure and budget that supports that position for years to come and we also need to take a hard look at how people are elected and stay in office.

McKoy said the process of putting together the state budget “is one that really rewards opaqueness and rewards insider baseball, it rewards last-minute decision making and drama rather than being an open process.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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