Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated progressive policies passed in New Jersey over the last year but provided few specifics for his future plans during his state of the state address Tuesday.
At its core, Murphy’s second state of the state address was a rededication to campaign promises he made back in 2017.
“Our values have not shifted. We are on the side of the middle class and all those working to get there,” he said. “We have taken on the tough fights that matter. We are working to change the culture in Trenton. And we are putting the needs of families ahead of the well-connected and entrenched special interests. And our work will not slow down.”
The governor touted the passage of bills giving the state a $15 per hour minimum wage, shoring up provisions of the Affordable Care Act at the state level and providing Planned Parenthood with funding to replace money lost from Title X cuts enacted under President Donald Trump.
He also made another brief pitch for the millionaire’s tax that drew cheers from his supporters in the rafters of the Assembly chamber but little in the way of emotion from the legislators in the audience.
“I am going to fight every day for the middle-class values that built New Jersey in the first place. It’s why I am not giving up the fight for a millionaire’s tax, so we can ease the property tax burden on millions of middle-class families and seniors, and do more to help fund our public schools,” Murphy said. “Overwhelming majorities of residents – of all political stripes – support this. We should, too.”
The governor reiterated his long-held stance on how the future of the state’s corporate tax incentive programs should look, calling again for caps and strict oversight of the millions given out by the Economic Development Authority.
He teased 10-year and five-year plans for New Jersey Transit that he said would guide the beleaguered transportation network through the new decade, though he did not provide any specifics about what those plans would entail.
“If a transit system doesn’t know where it’s going, it’s never going to get there,” Murphy said. “That’s what our strategic and capital plans will change.”
Similarly, Murphy provided few details about ethics reforms he said he would release over the coming weeks.
“In the coming weeks, I will propose a series of ethics reforms to, among other things, strengthen financial disclosures, tighten pay-to-play requirements, expand transparency, and increase awareness to the goings-on here in Trenton,” he said. “It’s been more than a decade since the executive and legislative branches undertook comprehensive ethics reform. It’s time now for us to look at it anew, with a whole-of-government approach that ensures we all live under the same laws and play by the same rules.”
He also provided no details about further planned reforms combatting sexual harassment and assault in the state’s politics, saying only that he would need lawmakers’ cooperation on the issue.
“Misogyny is alive and well. But, together, we can change that,” he said. “We can do this. We must do this. And, we must do this together.”