Two months after he won re-election to a second and final term as governor, Gov. Phil Murphy delivered a State of the State address today that highlighted his administration’s successes over the last four years, while also pledging to fight high property taxes and the ongoing pandemic in the year ahead.
Murphy’s address, his fourth overall and the second in a row delivered virtually, began by focusing on the Omicron wave of Covid, which has battered the state in recent weeks. Earlier today, Murphy reinstated a public health emergency to combat the virus, a declaration he reaffirmed during the address.
“Our state remains on a war footing against a virus that has now taken on a form that is overwhelming our collective psyche as it tests our state,” Murphy said. “It has indeed been an extraordinarily long two years.”
But despite the difficulties New Jersey has endured, Murphy was adamant that the state could still emerge from the pandemic with dignity and strength.
“Try as it may to knock us back and further divide us, one thing is certain: Omicron has not knocked us down,” Murphy said. “In fact, despite all of the challenges, we continue to move New Jersey forward.”
With Gov. Chris Christie’s administration now a full four years in the rearview mirror, much of today’s address focused on the accomplishments Murphy and the Democratic-controlled state legislature have made on issues ranging from taxation to gay rights to gun control.
“New Jersey – yes, New Jersey – is ranked as the best state in which to live for our safe communities, education system, health care, and quality of life,” Murphy said. “We have achieved these accomplishments during the most difficult of times, and against some of the darkest of backdrops.”
Fewer and farther between were any specific commitments Murphy intends to honor in his coming four-year term, though he did pledge to sign the recently passed Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, send a plan to the state legislature on prescription drug affordability, and design a state budget that will not raise any taxes.
“We will continue to focus on making New Jersey more affordable for everyone,” Murphy said. “The budget I put forward will not come with any tax increases, and we will continue our work taking on the one issue that has stood in the way of too many New Jersey families for far too long: property taxes.”
The issue of taxes is a particularly salient one for Murphy given his narrow re-election victory last November against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who made the state’s high property taxes an unwavering focus of his campaign. Despite Murphy’s promises to fight unaffordability today, however, Ciattarelli signaled he was unimpressed.
“Gov. Murphy’s State of the State address begs the question: what state is this guy living in?” Ciattarelli asked on Twitter. “We may all be in this together, but [Murphy] clearly isn’t here with us.”
Today’s address, which comes a week before Murphy is sworn in to a second term, ended with a plea for the state to move past party labels and work to make life in New Jersey better, no matter the ideological or partisan implications.
“The people of New Jersey elected each of us in public office for a single purpose: to get things done,” Murphy said. “From today forward, the politicking ends and the governing begins.”