State of the State Address: Our Progressive and Optimistic Governor

Governor Murphy’s opening statement was on a subject that spanned nearly half of his address. “I had planned to give a very different speech today but, after reading the audit of New Jersey’s corporate tax incentives released last week, this is not a time for business as usual.” He detailed errors of the past administration. He went on to say, “I do not oppose tax incentives. Carefully crafted, properly enforced, and transparent tax incentives have a place in a successful economic program. I am calling for a new program. 

He goes on to talk about past accomplishments. He said, “By any measure, working together – with Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin, and each of you – we had a productive year. And, because of that, I can proudly say that the state of our state is stronger and fairer than it was one year ago.” Our State does seem stronger and fairer but perhaps he exaggerates the “working together part.” 

He says, “According to research the median net worth of the average white family in New Jersey stands at $271,000. For Latino families it is $7,000. And, it is just $5,900 for African-American families. That is a startling statistic we must address.” He mentions some actions he has already taken.

“We’re investing in NJ TRANSIT to make the system work again. I am committed to making NJ TRANSIT the turnaround story of New Jersey.” He puts no time-lines on the project.

“Let’s start 2019 by finishing what we began in 2018 — putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path to $15 an hour, and legalizing adult-use marijuana. We must remember that when we talk about policy we are talking about people, not politics.” it appears there is some progress in the legislature on these two goals.

“By legalizing adult-use marijuana – first and foremost – we can reverse the inequality and unfairness left from years of failed drug policies and shift public safety resources to where they can do the most good. We must ensure that those with a past mark on their records because of a  can have that stain removed, so they can move forward to get a stable job or an education.” “Removing the stain” is an impotent component.

“Let’s take additional steps this year to close remaining loopholes — to make it easier for prosecutors and police to keep illegal guns off our streets, regulate and track ammunition sales, and assist community-based organizations in implementing coordinated, evidence-based, violence-intervention strategies. Let’s work together to get this done.”

“Let us use this year to also turn our attention to our aging water infrastructure.”

“Let’s work together to allow all residents — regardless of status — to obtain a valid New Jersey driver’s license.”

He ended his address saying, “My energy and optimism for the job ahead are boundless. They are shared by the residents I have met along this journey. I know we can make this vision a reality.”

He addressed many of the issues that the People’s State of State Address thought were important. However, some promises are hard to keep. There has been a strained relationship between the governor and the legislative leaders. Also it will be difficult to achieve some of his goals without raising taxes, which legislative leadership opposes. Nonetheless, he is our happy, progressive warrior, optimistic about fulfilling his objectives. We can only wish him success in his efforts.   

Read the full text of his speech here.

Preview Photo credit: One day shy of his one-year anniversary as New Jersey’s leader, Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his first State of the State address in the Assembly Chambers. Michael Mancuso (NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

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