SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE SWEENEY
“We have made real progress in the past year. We have moved New Jersey forward on a series of Democratic priorities that we have fought for years to get done. We restored funding for women’s health, expanded paid sick leave, required equal pay for women and put stronger gun safety laws in place.
“We made historic gains on school funding and the expansion of Pre-K with reforms that will improve the quality of education into the future. We not only substantially increased state aid, we made the long-needed reforms to the funding formula that will reshape educational opportunities for students throughout the state. And we gained public approval of the bond act for school safety and vocational education.
“We also addressed the steadily worsening conditions at New Jersey Transit in a plan that makes long-needed reforms. We acted quickly to put in place a comprehensive plan for reforms that the administration has adopted. The conditions for commuters deteriorated for years so the reforms will take some time to be fully realized, but this effort will require diligence and follow through. Its success can’t be taken for granted.
“There are other important goals we have taken on, including an increase to the minimum wage, the legalization of adult-use cannabis and the expansion of medical marijuana. These are significant changes that present demanding legal, social and political challenges. We have to recognize the challenges that must be met and understand the work that is required to get them done.
“As a long-time fighter for an increased minimum wage, I understand its importance and the difficulties in getting it done in ways that aid workers and support economic growth and opportunity. We have made real progress by working with the Governor and Speaker Coughlin. We have a proposal that addresses the Governor’s concerns that I believe will put New Jersey in the forefront of the movement to build a high wage economy. I look forward to the Governor’s support and approval on this shared priority.
“The legalization of marijuana is also a goal that can only be accomplished with work and commitment. We have put in the hard work in the Legislature to develop a plan that addresses the complex demands of this issue. We need the cooperative work of leaders to marshal the support of legislators in order to get this done.
“We have the opportunity and ability to continue to move New Jersey forward, to make real progress on the priorities of the people of New Jersey and to make the reforms needed to improve the quality of life for everyone. We have to work together in a collaborative and productive way. We have to recognize the challenges and appreciate the work that is still needed to get things done. And we have to look for the solutions that will stand the test of time and produce real and lasting progress.”
SENATE MINORITY LEADER TOM KEAN, JR.
“If you ask many New Jerseyans if they believe we have a state that is ‘stronger and fairer’ than a year ago, I think you’ll find the answer to be ‘no.’
“For the past year, Governor Murphy has ignored basic fiscal reforms that would lower the cost of government and make New Jersey more affordable for residents and taxpayers.
“It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing, that he failed to demand action on any of those reforms today, too. The result of this ongoing failure is repeated over and over in headlines that highlight the continued flight of residents and employers from New Jersey.
“He said a culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship is what attracts businesses and creates jobs. He’s not wrong with that, but he’s wrong in believing that raising taxes will create that culture.
“He cites Massachusetts as an example of a high-tax state that has a successful economy. He’s missing that much of their success is due to a stable tax environment that provides predictability for employers year in and year out.
“Governor Murphy’s various tax-increasing proposals are the antithesis of the Massachusetts model.
“On tax incentives, it’s clear to everyone that our programs run by EDA need better oversight.
“While we’d prefer low business taxes across the board for everyone, our tax incentive programs are an unfortunate necessity that help us to compensate for a difficult business environment and compete for jobs and economic growth.
“He spent much of his speech focused on those programs because he has little else to highlight that’s positive from an affordability standpoint.
“It’s not surprising, then, that a clear agenda for the next year that reflects the taxpayers’ priorities was missing from the Governor’s speech.
ASSEMBLY SPEAKER CRAIG COUGHLIN
“The State Assembly shares the Governor’s vision to continue the progress we made in 2018.
“The Assembly has always been thorough and thoughtful in its approach to furthering legislation and as we continue into the New Year, we remain focused on helping to lift up lower and middle class families, lowering our property taxes and ensuring fairness for all New Jersey families.
“I am confident that by working together, we will strengthen our communities and prosper economically.”
ASSEMBLY MAJORITY LEADER LOUIS GREENWALD
“I congratulate Gov. Murphy on his first State of the State Address. I believe his message was well delivered and well received. I think we can all agree that making New Jersey a more affordable state for all residents is a goal to which we must all aspire.
We face many challenges in 2019 including raising the minimum wage to $15 in a fair way, working further to enact common-sense gun safety measures, fixing the problems that continue to plague New Jersey Transit, continuing to work with the Administration on responsible adult-use cannabis legislation and much more.
I’m optimistic that the legislature, as a co-equal branch of government, can work with the Administration on our shared principals. I particularly look forward to working closely with the Governor on addressing the state’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes which consistently ranks atop the list of the issues most important to New Jersey residents.”
SENATE REPUBLICAN BUDGET OFFICER STEVE OROHO
“If the Governor wants to know the real state of the state, all he needs to do is read our Path to Progress report that highlights the significant fiscal challenges that confront New Jersey.
“It ignores fiscal reality for the governor to fail to address the exploding costs of pensions and benefits that threaten the economic future of our state and its residents. The public deserves to know his response to the solutions we proposed and his plan to address this crisis, and the State of the State would have been the appropriate venue to talk about a huge problem confronting State government.
“His singular focus on advancing progressive social policies, while burying his head in the sand on fiscal reforms, will do little to slow the out-migration from New Jersey that continues unabated.”