Home>Governor>Statements on Gov. Murphy’s State of the State Address

Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his State of the State address before a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on January 10, 2023. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Statements on Gov. Murphy’s State of the State Address

By David Wildstein, January 10 2023 3:22 pm

SENATE PRESIDENT NICHOLAS SCUTARI

“I welcome the Governor’s continued focus on affordability and economic opportunity. We need to build upon the progress we have made in providing tax relief, affordable housing, job creation, debt reduction, credit upgrades and strategic investments that promote economic growth.

“We have to maintain our emphasis on the needs and priorities of the hard-working people of New Jersey, especially the actions we can take to make their lives more affordable and improve their quality of life.

“I will work with Governor Murphy and Speaker Craig Coughlin and our legislative colleagues to address these priorities in the year ahead.”

ASSEMBLY SPEAKER CRAIG COUGHLIN

“We are proud of what we have accomplished to make New Jersey a better, more affordable place to live. The Governor’s State of the State speech accurately captured the successes of the past five years.

“Working together, we passed the largest property tax relief program – including the largest property tax relief initiative – in New Jersey history. Because of the sound financial decisions we have made, we have seen three credit rating upgrades over the past year, and we will preserve and expand programs to make New Jersey a more affordable place to live this year.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Murphy and the Senate on a common sense agenda to address the issues that matter most to New Jersey families.”

SENATE MINORITY LEDER STEVE OROHO

“Despite the rosy picture Governor Murphy is trying to paint, the state of the state is not good. And after five years of the Murphy administration and two decades of full Democrat control of the Legislature, the outlook for New Jersey continues to get worse.  We have the highest taxes, the most debt, and the worst business climate in the nation. Every year when national rankings come out, New Jersey is dead last. We have a state budget process that’s out of control, with spending up nearly 50% since Governor Murphy took office. Democrats continue to show no shame in tacking on billions in pork every year with no legitimate review or oversight. While they’re busy wasting billions on pet projects, they’ve failed to effectively manage the cost of benefits for hundreds of thousands of public workers. This year, that’s resulted in huge increases in health care premiums for local governments that will lead to spikes in property taxes across New Jersey. And over the last three years, they’ve squandered billions in pandemic relief funds that New Jersey received through the CARES and American Rescue Plan acts.

“Instead of solving big problems with those federal relief funds, like fixing our broken unemployment and motor vehicle computer systems, Democrats have absolutely nothing to show for the windfall we received. We have to ask: where’d it all go?  Under President Biden, New Jersey families continue to struggle with the highest inflation in a generation, and that continues to be made worse by the economic fallout of Governor Murphy’s job-killing pandemic restrictions.  The Governor’s trying to increase the financial pain even more with an absurdly expensive green energy plan that New Jersey families and businesses can’t afford.  He wants families to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars, and businesses millions of dollars, to replace their clean, efficient, and affordable gas appliances with electric versions that cost four times more to operate. The result will be huge increases in energy bills.  The Governor’s energy plan calls for massive wind farms to be built within sight of many beaches along the Jersey Shore. That will put New Jersey’s $45 billion tourism economy at risk, including half-a-million jobs that support families in our Shore communities and beyond.

“We also have pandemic-related learning loss in our schools that the Murphy Administration refuses to address, made worse by school funding cuts to hundreds of school districts enacted by the Democratic legislative majority.  Instead of focusing on improving student achievement in reading, writing, and math, Governor Murphy and Democrats have politicized our schools by injecting their radical ideologies into state education standards, which ends up being a time-wasting distraction in our children’s classrooms.  Parents are upset about this. They feel like they’ve been denied a voice in their children’s education, and they’ve been mocked and chastised by Democrats when they’ve come to Trenton to express concern. Those parents deserve to be heard.  We also have a major crime problem in many or our communities, including soaring rates of car theft.

“Our crime problem certainly wasn’t helped by Governor Murphy’s early release of thousands of inmates from our prisons, or restrictions he and Democrats placed on police that prevent them from stopping rowdy mobs of teens who are visibly breaking the law. Instead of standing up for the rights of citizens to protect themselves and live in safe communities, the Governor and Trenton Democrats have enacted unconstitutional restrictions on law-abiding firearm owners.  Just yesterday, a federal judge issued a scathing rebuke along with a restraining order to prevent parts of that unconstitutional new law from being enforced.

“So whether you’re talking about our state’s high taxes, out-of-control spending, our dismal business climate, rising energy bills, lack of support for students, lack of respect for parents, rising crime, or attacks on constitutional rights — all the direct result of Democrat policies – it should be clear we can do better. Governor Murphy can start by listening to Republicans who have offered sensible solutions to all these problems. New Jersey may be on the wrong track for now, but Republicans are showing it doesn’t have to stay that way.”

NEW JERSEY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT SEAN SPILLER, VICE PRESIDENT STEVE BEATTY AND SECRETARY-TREASURER PETAL ROBINSON

“We commend Gov. Murphy for publicly recognizing the vital role that New Jersey’s public schools play in the current and future success of our state. Throughout his first five years in office, he has been a consistent champion of public education as the key to broad economic prosperity. He has consistently demonstrated respect for the profession and a commitment to listening to educators when setting education policy. We look forward to working with him in the coming year to further strengthen our best-in-the-nation public schools and to address the current challenges that face students and educators alike.

“In particular, we are encouraged that he took action in the fall to create a task force to address the current staffing crisis in our schools. This is a problem that has been building for many years, and it requires immediate, sustained action to address it. We urge the governor and legislative leaders to listen to the experts on that task force and to use the coming months to implement the proposals they come up with. Those solutions will help our schools remain America’s best and ensure that our students have the support they need to learn and grow, developing the skills necessary to succeed in life and to lead our state in the future.

“We also commend Gov. Murphy’s ongoing commitment to justice for all New Jersey residents. From making communities safer against the scourge of gun violence to increasing the minimum wage, to standing up for women’s rights, the environment and voting rights, he has consistently demonstrated a belief that the well-being of every New Jersey resident matters. As leaders of a justice-centered union, we are proud to support a broadly justice-centered plan of action for the state where our members and students live, learn and work.”

STATE SENATOR ANTHONY BUCCO

“Since taking office in 2018, Governor Murphy has weakened New Jersey with higher taxes and increased spending, which has only worsened the financial burden of families across the state,” said Bucco (R-25). “There’s no doubt New Jersey families are worse off today than they were five years ago as their pocketbooks have been decimated by soaring energy costs, growing tax bills, and record-high inflation.”

“Governor Murphy continues to push his expensive green energy plan that could cost families tens of thousands of dollars in conversion costs and lead to even bigger increases in energy bills. When New Jersey’s residential energy costs are already among the highest in the country it’s obvious that’s not sustainable.”

“Many communities are worried that the Murphy administration has enabled a sense of lawlessness throughout the state. After Governor Murphy granted early release to thousands of inmates and tied the hands of police when dealing with rowdy teens, New Jersey witnessed a surge in crime, including an epidemic of car thefts and home invasions.”

“Whether you’re talking about our worst-in-the-nation rankings on taxes, debt, and business climate, growing energy bills, and rising crime, it’s clear New Jersey deserves better.”

ASSEMBLYWOMAN VICKY FLYNN

“It is rather disheartening and, quite frankly, infuriating to suggest every family can live the ‘American Dream’ when we have failed to address the core issues that concern New Jersey residents – affordability, education funding and public safety.  For instance, Governor Murphy talked about the State leading in education, but he has failed to provide adequate funding for districts to fulfill this mandate. At a time when schools are dealing with historically low test scores and teacher shortages, many districts are trying to do more with less to combat academic losses among students, growing mental health needs and astronomical surges in health care costs. The idea that the State increased its funding for education in the last 5 years is a false narrative because it fails to account for the lack of capital to support pandemic recovery efforts by schools. It also ignores the reality that the Governor himself cut funds from districts throughout the State.”

“Noticeably missing from the Governor’s State of the State was any reference to a successful plan addressing the learning gaps that exist in our children’s schooling – because the State has failed miserably in this regard. The Governor says that his funding in education provides tax relief, yet all our tax bills, health care and overall high costs of living prove otherwise.”

“The Governor referenced a need for greater bipartisan efforts to solve problems facing New Jersey, so I am hopeful he will sign the car theft bill package introduced by Gerry [Scharfenberger] and me because, as he indicated, this will be a top priority of his administration in 2023. We must reverse the damage caused from years of policies that weakened the ability of law enforcement to protect our communities.  People in New Jersey have the right to feel safe in their home and currently – they don’t. I have always been committed to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to do the work that our residents demand we do. There is no place for partisan policies when it involves our children’s future and safety of residents. ”

ASSEMBLYMAN GERALD SCHARFENBERGER

“We sat and listened through a narrative being told by Governor Murphy that could not be further from the dim realities facing New Jersey as well as every single taxpayer. His attempts to impart positive imagery to shroud his disastrous, failed policies is an insult to residents and small businesses of the Garden State who struggle to make ends meet because of how unaffordable N.J. has become. We have the highest property taxes in the nation and ranked 50th overall in business climate – this will not be corrected without real action.  The Governor should stop marketing himself for national audiences and instead get to work to solve the issues facing the state. Crime is through the roof, healthcare costs are skyrocketing and schools are seeing historic funding reductions yet nothing is being done. His posturing in front of the legislature is completely disingenuous and offensive to our constituents. Enough of the grandstanding for his future political aspirations – it’s time he focuses on the job he has instead of the one he wants!”

“From taxpayers to retirees, schools to law enforcement – Governor Murphy has acted in opposition to providing real solutions. It is disappointing, we are elected to represent our constituents and be their voices in State Government. It is highly unfortunate that the Governor has forgotten that.”

NEW JERSEY REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE

“For five years, Governor Murphy’s policies have been wreaking havoc on New Jersey families and businesses. Today was just another laundry list of far-left policies designed to set the stage for his presidential run. Murphy’s rosy picture of New Jersey as a progressive paradise is our everyday nightmare. It is more difficult than ever to afford to put food on the table, heat our homes, and run a business. Today’s speech particularly showed the importance of electing Republican majorities in the state legislature this year to place a badly-needed check on Murphy’s governorship and to stop his presidential campaign dead in its tracks.”

NEW JERSEY CITIZEN ACTION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DENA MOTTOLA JABORSKA

“Since the more urgent days of the pandemic, when he provided solid leadership, Governor Murphy has advanced very few new supports for New Jersey’s working families and low-and-moderate income residents. This is in contrast to the transformative accomplishments of his first term. In those years, Governor Murphy passed landmark legislation in healthcare, affordable collegesworkplace justice, and tax fairness, just to name a few. But in the past year he’s taken little or no action onand even opposed, policies and reforms that would lower prescription drug costs, end discrimination and over-pricing in auto insurance rates, address racial and socio-economic inequities, and help protect New Jerseyans from unscrupulous corporate interests. 

“We hope the increasing influence of corporate interests on the Murphy administration is not a preview of the next two years. We are deeply concerned with the possibility that the Governor could champion tax cuts for corporations. Past tax reforms that ensured corporations pay their fair share have raised the critical funding needed to support many key reforms that Murphy accomplished in his first term. Anthey have restored our state’s once damaged fiscal health, another major accomplishment for which the Governor deserves high praise.

We urge Governor Murphy to reject tax cuts for corporations and return to championing the transformative reforms struggling New Jerseyans need to ensure economic security for their families and their communities.” 

NEW JERSEY LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ED POTOSNAK

“New Jersey LCV is pleased Governor Murphy is doubling down on offshore wind to power New Jersey’s homes and businesses with clean energy, create good local jobs that can’t be outsourced, and combat climate change. This past year he has shown a renewed focus on environmental justice, particularly by advancing the Essex-Hudson Greenway, which will expand access to open space and recreational opportunities to some of the densest and most underserved communities in the state.  We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Murphy and his team as we fight to protect every New Jerseyan’s right to clean air, safe drinking water, and access to open space and parks as we fight against climate change.”

NEW JERSEY POLICY PERSPECTIVE PRESIDENT NICOLE RODRIGUEZ

“Governor Murphy is right to tout new state programs and laws that give working families a shot at success, from the child tax credit to the rising minimum wage. But with one in ten families living in poverty, and many more struggling to keep up with high costs, the state cannot afford to rest on its laurels.“Opportunity for all requires new, ambitious investments in families who have historically been left behind and need the most help. It requires fully funding our schools, increasing tax credits and safety net programs for those with the lowest incomes, along with sound tax policies to support those programs in the short- and long-term.“The governor slammed states that hand huge tax cuts to wealthy individuals and mega-corporations, but he was silent on how his administration will make sure New Jersey doesn’t follow that same path. Some legislators are poised to hand over $600 million in tax cuts to the most profitable corporations in the country, including Amazon and Walmart, even if it threatens the fate of the opportunity-building programs the governor highlighted in his address.“Opportunity for all will not be possible with a tax code that favors a wealthy, select few.”

HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT NETWROK PRESIDENT STACI BERGER

“The Network commends Governor Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Oliver for their efforts to ensure that every New Jerseyan has access to a safe and affordable place to live. Last year, historic investments were made to create more affordable opportunities. The governor and legislative leaders must keep that momentum going so we can help to HouseNJ.

“Our state has been a leader in implementing policies that protect homeowners and renters during a recent vulnerable time in our nation’s history. There is much more to be done to expand on that work, much more to do if we are to truly achieve housing, health and racial justice. We look forward to working with the Murphy administration to realize these goals and make our state a place everyone can afford to call home.”

NEW JERSEY HARM REDUCTION COALITION DIRECTOR CAITLIN O’NEILL

“This new program sends an important message: every New Jerseyan deserves access to naloxone, whether for themselves or a loved one, confidentially and without barriers or fear of stigma. Amidst the ever-changing and unpredictable street drug supply, more New Jerseyans are at-risk of overdose today than ever before. Widespread naloxone access is essential to the survival of all people who use drugs, and an integral part of ending the overdose crisis.

“At the same time, the governor is right that naloxone access alone will not end the overdose crisis. We need a Harm Reduction Center in every corner of the Garden State, an end to criminalization of people who use drugs, access to unbiased mental and physical healthcare, and housing justice. We look forward to working with Governor Murphy and lawmakers to expand harm reduction services, save lives, and uplift the dignity and humanity of all people who use drugs.”

SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CHRISTINA RENNA

“The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) was pleased to hear a strong acknowledgment from Governor Murphy that the way business is conducted today is different than it was pre-pandemic. This fact must be taken into consideration as state-based incentive programs continue to be reevaluated and retooled for the modern-day workforce. Additionally, the continued focus on wind energy by this Administration has positioned South Jersey to be the wind capital of the northeast, which will equate to new and high-paying green jobs in the region. The CCSNJ is grateful that South Jersey has been given the opportunity to be the birthplace of this budding industry and looks forward to continuing to reap its economic benefits.

“As Governor Murphy looks ahead to his budget message for FY2024, the CCSNJ would like to see a heightened focus on affordability in the form of significant tax policy changes on the residents and businesses of the state. With one of the highest income tax rates and the highest corporate tax rates in the nation, not to mention the Unemployment Insurance tax hike on businesses which could have been avoided, New Jersey deserves and desperately needs substantive tax relief. The CCSNJ stands ready to work with the Administration on robust policies that will change New Jersey’s outlier status when it comes to taxation policy and affordability moving forward.”

MAKE THE ROAD NEW JERSEY LEAER STEVEN MERCADO

“People of color, workers and immigrants across New Jersey are struggling as we emerge from a pandemic that has taken a disproportionate toll on their lives. Governor Murphy has made significant progress towards building a more fair and welcoming state, but there is still much work to be done. Hundreds of thousands of temp workers that provide critical labor to our state’s warehouse and logistics sector and beyond still lack basic workplace protections. Immigrant essential workers and their families are surviving without aid or health care. And our state is facing an alarming housing crisis, the brunt of which is born by families of color. Young people continue to be threatened by police in our schools rather than welcomed with supportive services. We urge Gov. Murphy and the legislature to prioritize programs that will strengthen working families of color, including expanding health care and the safety net, providing critical workplace protections and building schools where we all can thrive. We can’t do any of this if we let the Corporate Business Tax (CBT) surcharge expire at the end of the year. This would provide an enormous tax cut to the biggest and most profitable businesses — including wealthy, multi-state corporations like Amazon, Walmart, and Bank of America, at the peril of working families in New Jersey.”

NEW JERSEY AFL-CIO PRESIDENT CHARLES WOWKANECH AND SECRETARY-TREASURER LAUREL BRENNAN

“We congratulate Governor Murphy on his accomplishments to grow the economy on behalf of New Jersey’s working families.“We laud the Governor’s continued commitment to improving our public transportation, growing our shipping and port sectors, creating the new off-shore wind energy production and manufacturing sectors, growing the cannabis industry, and incentivizing the film and television industry.“These important achievements will create thousands of union jobs across all sectors and trades for years to come.“New Jersey is on the right path, and as we continue down that path, we look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to address the challenges facing working people.”

NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE LAW & POLICY DIRECTOR HENAL PATEL

“The Governor correctly noted that it is our obligation to make the word ‘justice’ ring true in every community. Unfortunately, the State of the State address was short on any concrete racial justice policies that would fulfill that vision.

“While we appreciate that the Governor acknowledged that we must lead by protecting our sacred voting rights, the Governor did not discuss any plans or priorities to achieve that goal. We have made great strides in expanding voting rights in the last five years – from restoring voting rights to people on parole and probation to enacting early voting and automatic and online voter registration – but there are still too many people in the state who are disenfranchised or face barriers to casting their ballot. We must prioritize voting rights this year. Let’s pass same-day voter registration and a strong John R. Lewis New Jersey Voting Rights Act.”

NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE ECONOMIC JUSTICE PROGRAM DIRECTOR LAURA SULLIVAN

“While the Governor’s speech highlighted the importance of ensuring that everyone has economic opportunity, there were few specifics on how he is making the American dream more inclusive in the Garden State. Many New Jersey families, particularly Black and other families of color, are still feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic, while struggling to afford basic needs in a time of rising inflation. The Governor’s remarks focused on efforts of his Administration to promote overall growth in the state, highlighting the current low unemployment rate, but there was no discussion of plans to address the staggering racial wealth gap – one of the highest in the country – in New Jersey. We need systemic change, and that vision was lacking today.”

NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM DIRECTOR YANNICK WOOD

“We are pleased that the Governor highlighted how gun violence and auto theft have been falling in New Jersey. This is occurring while preserving bail reform and without unnecessary legislation, like S3347, S3385, S3006 and S3028, pending bills that would increase detention. As the Governor and New Jersey’s lawmakers seek policies to help families ‘feel safe in their communities,’ we urge them to expand youth mental health programs and funding for community-based organizations in the way that law enforcement is funded so that all communities can be empowered to keep themselves safe.”

FUEL MERCANTS ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT ERIC DEGESARO

“Governor Murphy was quoted this morning about the importance of ‘putting your money where your mouth is.’ His pledge to be fiscally responsible rings hollow to homeowners, renters, taxpayers, and businesses.  He refuses to explain his catastrophically expensive and intrusive policy of mandating every building in the state be retrofitted with electric heat. With his lack of candor today on the most radical transformation of the state’s energy, environmental, housing, and economic policy in the history of New Jersey, his silent streak on building electrification remains unblemished. Governor Murphy is putting your money where his mouth isn’t.”

NEW JERSEY STATE LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES PRESIDENT AND MILLSTONE MAYOR RAYMOND HECK

“Society has drastically changed since Franklin Roosevelt was president and New Jersey’s ability to issue liquor licenses needs to join the long list of those positive changes.  A relic of post-prohibition reforms in the 1930s, New Jersey’s process to obtain a liquor license has been badly broken for many decades and we applaud Governor Murphy’s proposal. The League, and our Liquor License Reform Task Force, is eager to vigorously participate in this process, including the development of new consumption.”

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDPENDENT BUSINESS STATE DIRECTOR EILEEN KEAN

“Governor Murphy said during his State of the State message today that New Jersey now has a more reasonable and responsible government that is a model for the nation. He mentioned that one billion dollars in grants and loans were provided to help small businesses since the onset of the pandemic. While NFIB is grateful, Main Street businesses continue to struggle, operating in the most expensive, overtaxed state in the country.

“The Governor failed to address the reality that businesses are being forced to contribute over one billion dollars to the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, which was depleted by the pandemic, unlike in the majority of other states that dedicated federal COVID relief money to their unemployment shortfall.

“His announced plan to entirely revamp all aspects of New Jersey’s liquor licensing laws, while well intentioned, will create another layer of expensive fees and regulations, pitting unlicensed and currently licensed Main Street restaurants against each other. He could have used a scalpel to remove the current bad brewery rules, but instead he is using a meat cleaver, and it will be ugly.”

NEW JERSEY BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY ASSOCATION PRESIDENT MICHELE SIEKERKA

“As Governor Murphy embarks on the second year of his second term, we acknowledge and appreciate recent steps to improve New Jersey’s business climate.

“Specifically, last week’s signing of bill A-573, which expedites construction inspections, and last month’s signing of bill A-4929, bringing flexibility to New Jersey economic incentive requirements as it relates to remote work, were greatly needed and welcomed by the business community.

“We also credit the Governor and his administration for bolstering the film and television industry in the state, including last month’s announcement of Netflix’s future East Coast production hub at Fort Monmouth. These initiatives provide tax revenue, permanent and temporary jobs and important economic activity for the state.

“With that said, however, we do believe the administration can – and should – be doing more to address affordability for New Jersey small businesses.

“In NJBIA’s 2023 Business Outlook Survey, 82% of businesses said New Jersey is either somewhat unaffordable or not affordable at all for business. That is not rhetoric. Rather, it reflects what we and our business advocacy peers hear literally every day.

“Recall that New Jersey had more than $6 billion in federal COVID relief funds. Yet the governor alone stood in the way of legislation that would have used it to partially or fully relieve our small businesses of this burden – as most states in the nation appropriately did.

“This $1 billion unemployment tax increase on business, which is a tax on jobs and was solely the result of some of the longest pandemic shutdowns in the nation, now costs each New Jersey business hundreds of dollars more per employee, per year, than prior to the pandemic.

“Similarly, as we heard much about ANCHOR property tax relief today in the Governor’s address, it must be noted again that New Jersey businesses were excluded from that assistance – even though they pay nearly half of the state’s property taxes.

“We do appreciate the grants that have been made available to New Jersey businesses under Governor Murphy. But targeted grants for some do not compare to the deserved, comprehensive relief needed for the greater whole of New Jersey’s overburdened small business community.

“We should avoid being a national outlier for business taxes and high regulatory costs, not embrace it. It is our wish and hope in 2023 that Governor Murphy works with the business community to bring more affordability and much-needed relief for New Jersey’s small businesses.”

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