Home>Governor>Comments on Gov. Murphy State of the State

Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his first State of the State address in January, 2019.

Comments on Gov. Murphy State of the State

By David Wildstein, January 15 2019 2:42 pm

PHYLLIS SALOWE-KAYE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW JERSEY CITIZEN ACTION

“In the year since Governor Phil Murphy has taken office we have accomplished so much to improve the lives of women, children, workers and families across the state.  We’ve passed legislation pushing back against the Trump administration’s destructive healthcare policies, making healthcare more affordable for many New Jerseyans. We’ve passed legislation to ensure our state residents are protected from surprise out of network medical bills. We’ve passed the strongest earned sick days and strongest Equal Pay laws in the country, and expanded access to both pre-k and community college for our residents. And by authorizing an audit for the state’s Economic Development Authority, Governor Murphy took an important first step towards curbing eight years of tax giveaways to wealthy and well-connected corporations.

“Much still needs to be done. Without a $15 minimum wage for all workers in New Jersey and a more equitable tax structure in which the wealthiest among us pay their fair share, our economy will continue to lag as many of our working families continue to struggle. And the Comptroller’s report on the EDA that $11 billion in tax breaks was given to corporations for no known benefits to New Jersey taxpayers makes it clear we must change the way Trenton does business. No more backroom deals to enrich corporations and politically connected party bosses. We stand behind the Governor’s proposals to reform the EDA and his efforts to ensure a more transparent, democratic process in Trenton. And we look forward to pushing through important progressive legislation over the finish line in 2019.”

RAJ BATH, BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVE, NEW JERSEY MAIN STREET ALLIANCE

“In Governor Phil Murphy’s first year we’ve seen some steps towards creating a level playing field for small businesses in a recovering economy. Thanks to the Governor’s authorization for an audit of the state’s Economic Development Authority, we know tax breaks for large companies do not help main street New Jersey. The fact that we have given $11 billion with no clear return on investment is simply bad economics and a wasted opportunity to invest in small business.  We have to change the way we prioritize tax payer dollars so that it benefits New Jersey small business owners and the communities they serve.  We applaud Governor Murphy’s efforts to reform the EDA and look forward to working with the administration on ensuring our small businesses and their communities have what they need to thrive in today’s economy.

“This past year New Jersey passed legislation pushing back against the Trump administration’s destructive healthcare policies and made quality healthcare more affordable for small business owners and their employees. Policies that allow small business owners to focus on selling their products and services help grow their local economies and benefit all of New Jersey. We hope to see more policies like this, as Secure Choice gets passed and Paid Family Leave is expanded and improved. As we begin 2019, we look forward to working with the State Legislature and the Murphy administration to continue to level the playing field for small business owners and ensure that they succeed.”

PETER KASABACH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW JERSEY FUTURE

“It is encouraging to hear the governor talk about a New Jersey where businesses want to relocate, where young people want to start their families, and where all residents can live in diverse, inclusive communities.  The governor’s plans to get NJ Transit back on track, rejoin RGGI, and implement the Historic Tax Credit and other programs outlined in his economic master plan really get to the heart of what it means to create healthy, sustainable places. New Jersey Future looks forward to continuing to work with the governor on these initiatives as well as others, such as updating the State Plan, to maximize the return on our state’s investments.”

CHRIS STURM, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NEW JERSEY FUTURE

“Governor Murphy’s comments on New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure underscore what we have all been talking about for years.  New Jersey needs and deserves clean drinking water, streets that do not flood with untreated sewage when it rains, and the assurance that property and businesses won’t be damaged by nuisance flooding. I am optimistic that the governor will continue to work with partners within the state and at the federal level and confident that our water infrastructure will be upgraded under his leadership.”

SCOTT RUDDER, PRESIDENT, NJ CANNABUSINESS ASSOCIATION

“Governor Murphy’s remarks on cannabis legalization were highly encouraging. To have a governor mention legalization in a positive light in their State of the State address shows how far we have come in New Jersey. That said, we still have to get this across the finish line. I look forward to turning his and all supportive elected officials’ statements into action.”

DOUG STEINHARDT, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE

“New Jersey is headed in the wrong direction. Businesses and jobs are leaving our State at alarming rates, because the Governor’s ultra-liberal policies make New Jersey the most inhospitable state in the country in which to live and work.  Murphy promised a stronger and fairer New Jersey, but his policies make us weaker and poorer. What’s worse, his Democratic colleagues in the legislature tell us that they recognize our problems, but vote, year in and year out, to avoid the state’s toughest problems, like pensions and healthcare, and pile onto our already oppressive tax burden.  There’s little trust left in Trenton, and for good reason.

Just this year we saw two longtime New Jersey based employers move their corporate headquarters out of state when Gerber and Honeywell began moving to Virginia North Carolina.  Governor Murphy’s corporate and other tax hikes are a repellant to job creators and businesses. The constant threat of state tax increases disrupts the ability for businesses, large or small, to have predictability and stability in their long-term planning.

It’s no surprise that just a few weeks after New Jersey Democrats voted for over a billion dollars in tax hikes, Amazon made its final decision to take New Jersey out of the running and put its HQ2 in New York and Virginia. But tax hikes alone aren’t the only threat to job growth and New Jersey’s economic viability.  Every day, New Jersey Democrats inch closer and closer to writing into state law government mandated wages.  Common sense tells us all that a government mandated, $15 minimum wage will force small businesses to lay off the least-skilled and most vulnerable workers and replace them permanently with technology like touch screen kiosks. These same, government mandated costs are then passed on to consumers in the form of higher costs for goods and services, making it even less affordable to live, work and retire in New Jersey.  It’s a vicious cycle that Democrats are unable or unwilling to break.

The results of these policies hit us hard in our wallets, but the consequences are even greater. Jobs are leaving NJ and our family members are leaving with them. Not only does NJ rank worst in business climate and highest in property taxes, we are now number one in out-migration too.  New Jersey’s communities were once made up of multiple generations of families living in the same neighborhoods, having Sunday dinners and growing up together. Today, our kids can’t afford to get their start here and our grandparents can’t afford to retire here.  I will not be one of those parents or grandparents who is forced to visit his children or grandchildren on Skype or Facetime because they can’t afford to live here, work here or find a job here.  I know we can do better, we have to do better, and our Republican leaders are committed to doing just that.

Agenda item number one must be to make New Jersey competitive and affordable. While that was the theme we needed to hear today, we didn’t. Pie in the sky won’t put food on your table or a roof over your head.  Discipline and better government will. The first step is to take tax increases off the table. Trenton needs to live within its means, just like every responsible family household would. We need a commitment from Governor Murphy to roll back his liberal agenda and put things like “free college” on the back-burner.  We need a commitment from our single party government to leave our families and children with opportunities and not just debt.  We will be using 2019 to remind New Jersey voters that there is an alternative to single party rule in this State, one that values the traditions of family, life, religious liberty, diversity and hard work.”

BRANDON MCKOY, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, NEW JERSEY POLICY PERSPECTIVE 

“New Jersey’s economy and the long term prospects of its working families are stronger now than they were a year ago, and that is a direct result of progressive policies passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor over the last year.

“More than one million New Jersey residents now have access to paid sick days, undocumented students have equal access to tuition assistance at state colleges and universities, and health care premiums are among the lowest in the nation despite the federal government’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.

“But there is still more work to be done in building the “stronger and fairer” state the Governor envisions. Far too many New Jerseyans continue to live in poverty and that will not change until the state raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers. The state must also expand access to driver’s licenses to all residents, regardless of immigration status, to ensure every New Jerseyan can safely drive their kids to school and get to work on time.

“Further, the Governor was right to highlight the importance of reining in runaway corporate subsidies at the EDA — this is critical to improving the state’s fiscal health and budget prospects. The $11 billion in subsidies are corporate cronyism at its worst and harken back to trickle down economic policies that failed the state. We were pleased to hear the Governor devote so much of his speech to this important issue and look forward to working with him and Legislature as they consider necessary reforms.”

ASSEMBLYWOMAN BETTY LOU DECROCE

“Governor Murphy’s State of the State speech was a masterpiece of progressive rhetoric; but it was a dismal failure for laying out a vision on how he is going to make New Jersey more economically competitive and more affordable for the state’s middle-class residents.

There was nothing in the speech that gave solace to the homeowners and job seekers in Morris, Passaic or Essex counties who are burdened by incredibly high property taxes and too few good paying jobs. We heard nothing in the governor’s vision for New Jersey about lessening the huge property tax burden on hard working homeowners and renters.

The governor failed to address the recent report on the number of people fleeing New Jersey and the reasons they are leaving. There was nothing in the speech that would alter anyone’s plans to leave New Jersey for a more tax friendly state with better job opportunities.

While the governor’s lengthy criticism of the way the state Economic Development Authority operates to fund job retention may be justified; he failed to grasp the opportunity to show the state and the rest of the country that New jersey is ready to be economically competitive by doing the one thing that must be done – which is to cut taxes.

While the governor pointed to Massachusetts’s ability to attract business with fewer tax incentives; he failed to mention that the Bay State has a lower corporate tax rate than New Jersey.  He failed to mention that according to The Tax Foundation’s measurement of business climate, Massachusetts ranks 11th in the nation and New Jersey is dead last at 50. The governor said nothing about how he would address that.

The state of the State of New Jersey from the progressive perspective is doing just fine. The governor is doubling down on more taxpayer money for “free” college education, drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants, and marijuana legalization. But from the perspective of the struggling middle class families and young people seeking good jobs, the state of New Jersey is dismal and there is little hope of it getting better any time soon.

I truly hope the governor soon recognizes that his progressive agenda is not working for the vast majority of people in New Jersey.”

ASSEMBLYMAN ROBERT AUTH

“I am extremely disappointed with Governor Murphy’s lack of a plan for the future of New Jersey. While the State is choking on excessive regulation, unparalleled taxes, and profligate spending; Governor Murphy has decided to double down.

In his speech he listed programs on ad infinitum without a plan to pay for his utopian dream.  Eventually, we all know who will bare the brunt of that future bill.

Instead of finger pointing at the President and our former Governor, our new Governor, needs to remember that many of the successes that he took credit for today were the direct result of the past administration. If he truly wants to help the citizenry of our State, he needs to re-think his agenda and work closely with legislators who want to emphasize property tax relief and a reduction in extravagant spending. It’s time to give the taxpayers an opportunity to catch their collective breath.”

CAMDEN COUNTY FREEHOLDER LOUIS CAPPELLI

“Disappointingly, I watched the Governor address the legislature wasting time and energy to relitigate the same subject matter he brought up last week. Unfortunately, these critical comments ring hollow compared with his hypocritical actions by trying to give away billions of dollars in incentives to some of the richest people in the world. Since he has taken office the Governor has employed this same tax incentive program to the tune of more than $5 billion to entice Jeff Bezos, the richest man on the planet, to move a part of the Amazon corporation to Newark and another undisclosed $200 million award the Murphy administration approved to a wealthy international pharmaceutical company, AmerisourceBergen, less than a year ago.

The EDA has been working on these incentives statewide since 1996 and the Governor continues to paint all incentive recipients with a broad, righteous brush. Instead of trying to demonize all of the companies who have worked to be part of a once in a lifetime transformation in Camden, the city should have been celebrated like our counterparts in North Jersey in today’s speech.

In Camden County, we have had a renaissance take place in the city and county that has been nationally recognized by everyone from President Barack Obama to national publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Before the Governor decides to paint with such a broad brush I would hope that he identifies corporations that are not following the law the way it was intended.

Historical perspective is key to understanding the impact the Economic Opportunity Act has had on Camden. For sixty years, the city has been socially isolated, disenfranchised and economically forgotten.  During those years businesses fled, crime was rampant, housing stock deteriorated, K-12 education failed, infrastructure was not maintained, and public realm assets were all but abandoned. In short, residents suffered and the city was stuck like a rudderless ship with no direction.

Measured by every objective metric, Camden is a success story in the making based on the use of the current EDA incentive program. The results are irrefutable and tangible throughout the city and it wasn’t by happenstance that these changes took place.

The New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 (“Grow”) has been a catalyst to attract businesses to Camden.  The Grow program was a successful attempt to rebuild the city by incentivizing companies to locate their offices here. In the future, we believe enhancements laid out in the Comptroller’s report can make the program more effective and will further provide a boost to our city using more surgical methods. Based on the Comptroller’s analysis and recommendations we believe the findings are the basis to make the EDA incentive system stronger. We agree with the Comptroller’s Office that the incentives have been “critical tools in the state’s effort to retain and attract business enterprises” and we also agree that policies can be enhanced to improve confidence in the operation of the overall program.

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