REPUBLICAN STATE CHAIRMAN MICHAEL LAVERY
CWA NEW JERSEY STATE DIRECTOR HETTY ROSENSTEIN
“During this year unlike any other, thousands of CWA workers continued providing essential services in the face of extreme challenges. We stayed on the job serving the public – working in offices, hospitals, motor vehicle agencies and even at kitchen tables, while balancing things at home. Governor Phil Murphy – helped by a legislature that stepped up – made sensible and sound decisions regarding our state’s budget, priorities and the public health. As we near the light at the end of this dark tunnel, CWA looks back on the past months with pride in our extraordinary members who’ve given their all. Our optimism, even in the face of more months of the virus to come, is only marred by the recent and horrific events in Washington and the disappointment we feel at the lack of courage and candor from some elected officials. Unionism and collective bargaining are the heart and soul of democracy. And CWA will continue our work on the front lines of not only providing services, but of rejecting authoritarianism, white nationalism, and the scourge of bigotry wherever it rears it’s ugly head.”
“With 10 months of shutdowns and restrictions, clearly New Jersey is facing an uphill battle. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. We have 34% fewer small businesses than this time last year. And many of those that have survived are struggling every day, and their spirits are being put to the test.
“During a ‘State of New Jersey Business’ town hall held this week by the New Jersey Business Coalition, we heard those heartbreaking struggles from business owners and leaders from multiple industries, sensed their grave concerns, and even saw a few tears.
“We continue to encourage outside-the-box thinking to help small businesses, the lifeblood of our state’s economy. And we also plead for an end to costly mandates and higher taxes, which amazingly continued to confront our businesses this year, even in these historically bad times.
“Looking past the pandemic and its impacts, New Jersey still faces great economic challenges. We are certainly excited about a new and balanced economic incentive program, signed by Governor Murphy last week, which will be a strong tool to both create and retain jobs in our great state. However, more must be done to reverse our untenable increases in spending and borrowing and deepening fiscal deficits.
“As New Jersey continues to consistently rank as one of the top outmigration states in the nation, our structural challenges urgently need to be addressed. For the sake of our affordability and fiscal survival, impactful fiscal reforms must now supplant the excessive taxation on our overburdened residents and businesses. Without that commitment, New Jersey’s considerable challenges will only grow greater.”
ACLU-NJ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMOL SINHA
“As Governor Murphy looks back on the progress we have made in 2020, even despite the pandemic, and as we look to the work ahead in 2021, we look forward to collaborating with the governor, the administration, and members of the Legislature to achieve our common goals of expanding civil rights and liberties and building a better, freer New Jersey for everyone.
“With the overwhelming passage of the referendum to legalize cannabis, the groundbreaking Public Health Emergency Credit law, and revisions to the state’s use-of-force policy to actively encourage de-escalation – to name just a few strides forward – New Jersey has emerged as a national leader across important issues. We must go even further in 2021, and we must work with renewed vigor to rid ourselves of the inequities that the pandemic has compounded, especially within communities of color.”
“The passage and signing of the Public Health Emergency Credit bill into law not only saved lives, but prompted the largest single decarceration in New Jersey history, putting New Jersey at the forefront of a nationwide movement to reduce incarceration. We’re proud to have significantly reduced the prison population in our state, and look forward to more reforms to end the racist plight of mass incarceration.”
Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization
“Above all, we must get cannabis legalization and decriminalization over the finish line, to definitively end most cannabis arrests and to put in place a cannabis marketplace that takes important steps to build racial and social justice. And we must continue to push just as fiercely for social and racial justice in implementation as we have in legislation. While it has been a long process, we are close to getting it done – and we’re heartened that there is broad agreement on ending the criminalization of cannabis across stakeholders, leaving us optimistic for groundbreaking legislation.”
Overhaul of Policing
“Last year, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police brought nationwide attention back to what we have long known: people of color unjustly bear the brunt of police violence, and we need to end a culture of policing that too often victimizes Black people. While the Attorney General has taken positive steps by adopting a leading use-of-force policy and increasing police transparency, we still need to overhaul policing through mandatory and broad records transparency, allowing for the creation of strong civilian complaint review boards, and ending qualified immunity.”
“We must also pass a bill to end mandatory minimums that can free so many people who are serving sentences that should have ended already – disproportionately people of color. Through the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission, we achieved unanimous, bipartisan support of legislation to end mandatory minimums for many crimes – we should not delay its passage any longer.”
“When it comes to reproductive freedom, access is key, and we must make the Reproductive Freedom Act law. Families and individuals thrive when they can make their own decisions, and New Jersey must take action to make sure that no one has to struggle to get care they need with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
“At the end of 2019, a new law expanded driver’s licenses to all eligible people regardless of immigration status, and we anticipate imminent regulations that ensure that the state keeps its promises in fulfilling the full potential of the law.
“With the end of the Trump administration, we cannot let our guard down against attacks on the rights of immigrants, and it’s imperative that we enshrine the protections of the Attorney General’s Immigrant Trust Directive into law and end local law enforcement from acting as agents for ICE.”
“As President Trump’s response to the election results has shown, those in power can too easily spread misinformation, undermine our democracy, and catalyze violence along the way. We must combat that by enhancing civic participation, and continuing to do whatever we can to make it easier to vote, not harder. This includes ending disenfranchisement of those in prison, implementing robust early voting, and Election Day registration. No one should ever lose their voice in our democracy.”
NEW JERSEY POLICE PERSPECTIVE PRESIDENT BRANDON MCKOY
“In the face of the biggest public health crisis in a century, Governor Murphy and legislative leaders stepped up to keep residents safe and the economy afloat. The governor and state lawmakers deserve an enormous amount of credit for how they are handling the pandemic, especially considering the lack of leadership by the federal government.
“By rejecting austerity and, instead, investing heavily in public schools, the social safety net, and health care, New Jersey is in a good position to chart a strong and swift pandemic recovery. Putting the needs of the many before those of a few should serve as a roadmap for other states as they continue to respond to COVID-19. To maintain a robust and equitable recovery, lawmakers must expand on these investments, especially for our immigrant communities, to ensure no one is left behind.
“We welcome Governor Murphy’s renewed call for ethics reform in the halls of power in New Jersey. All lawmakers have a responsibility to improve public trust in government. That can only be accomplished by bringing much-needed transparency and accountability back into the legislative process. We look forward to working with the governor and legislature on these priorities, and more, in the year ahead.”
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND ALLIED EMPOYEES PRESIDENT DEBBIE WHITE
I want to applaud Gov. Murphy for his clear-eyed vision for our state and for charting a course that opens New Jersey to a future filled with innovation, prosperity and good health for our people. The vision the governor laid out today in his state-of-the-state address is a continuation of his steadfast leadership of New Jersey in a time of global pandemic that has hit New Jersey particularly hard.
At HPAE, New Jersey’s largest union of healthcare workers, we urge Governor Murphy to ensure New Jersey continue its long-held leadership role in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical and medical supplies. We especially need to be at the forefront of ensuring that NJ has an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment for essential front line workers. NJ and the nation continue to battle COVID-19 yet many workers continue to do their work without the protections they need to reduce their risk of exposure to the virus. We must increase our stockpile for 2021 while preparing for any future pandemic outbreak or hazardous calamities that our state may face. Our state also faced shortages of healthcare workers because of the severity of the pandemic and because workers got sick–including some who died from the disease.
Finally, the coronavirus pandemic exposed vast disparity gap in healthcare outcomes for people of color and the poor. The governor’s healthcare proposals aim to correct some of this disparity to improve access to quality care by improving access to healthcare coverage. We look to working with the governor on these critical issues.
NEW JERSEY AFL-CIO PRESIDENT CHARLES WOWKANECH
“Governor Murphy is putting New Jersey’s working families first. Many working families are struggling every day just to get by.
“The governor and Legislature stepped in with aid when the federal government did not. Through Governor Murphy’s leadership, we have a clear plan to put people back to work in well-paying union jobs.”
Key pro-labor elements of the governor’s agenda for his fourth year in office include:
- Building on his recently signed business incentives program to add more good union jobs.
- Expanding affordable child care for working families.
- Completion of the Portal Bridge on the Northeast Corridor rail line, and working with the incoming Biden administration to fund the Gateway Project to add rail tunnels under the Hudson River, which the governor said would provide thousands of new union jobs.
- Making New Jersey the nation’s leader in wind energy through the South Jersey Wind Port and the union-staffed turbine manufacturing plant in Paulsboro.
- Seeking state legislation to assist renters and home buyers facing eviction or other housing insecurity, and eliminating “food deserts” as well.
- Setting up an efficient early-voting system, because working people are the backbone of our democracy.
- COVID-19 vaccination of every adult New Jersey resident who asks for a shot.
- Rooting out systemic racism and other biases, because diversity and civil rights are labor rights, and a fair justice system aligns with the values of the Labor Movement.
“Governor Murphy is promising real progress for New Jersey,. We look forward to our continued partnership with the governor and the state Legislature as we all work to revive New Jersey’s hard-hit economy.”
NEW JERSEY FUTURE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PETER KASABACH
“The last year has presented unexpected challenges and highlighted long standing systemic issues such as social and racial inequity, but we are optimistic that the policies highlighted in Governor Murphy’s State of the State Address today will indeed allow us to recover stronger. Place-based economic development initiatives such as those included in the Economic Recovery Act will help jump start our economy, including our downtown main streets so severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and promote smart growth policies proven to strengthen communities. Infrastructure investments, including the portal bridge project, are critical both for stimulating local economies and, when it comes to transit, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These priorities, coupled with an emphasis on equity, indicate that the state is moving in the right direction to achieve a stronger and fairer New Jersey for everyone.”
AFFORDABLE ENERGY FOR NEW JERSEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RON MORANO
“While it’s important to invest in our energy systems, today’s speech continues a long pattern of failing to address three essential questions for energy policy:
- Is this feasible?
- Will it be more reliable?
- What will it cost?
We encourage the state to assess the feasibility, reliability, and most importantly the cost of its energy policies, including the Energy Master Plan, and share that information with the public. Now is the time to make smart, affordable energy investments that will grow our economy, not rely on unproven technologies that could leave our residents and businesses worse off.”
STATE SEN. ANTHONY M. BUCCO (R-BOONTON)
“The people of New Jersey are resilient, but many are struggling after a very difficult year.
“Let me say at the outset that we stand united with the governor in condemning the violence at the Capitol last week. We owe it all our constituents to speak truthfully about the election results and condemn the acts of those who seek to overturn a democratic election with lies and violence.
“We also stand united in praising our front line health care workers and first responders who have risked their lives and health this year to server others. They are the best of New Jersey. We stand with the governor in praising their courage and bravery.
“The simple fact is, even with the unforeseen disruptions and challenges to our lives last year, the State of the State could be stronger if we didn’t have unnecessary missteps from this administration.
“More than 7,000 seniors in our nursing homes and long-term care facilities died after the Murphy Administration issued guidelines forcing them to accept COVID patients and forbidding them to even test if new admissions had the virus. Our state-run veterans facilities were the hardest hit.
“New Jersey was not the only state to make this mistake, but our results were horrible. Unfortunately, New Jersey’s COVID mortality rate is the worst in the country, and even worse than any country in the world. That’s not okay, and I urge Republicans and Democrats alike to examine what happened, hold people accountable, and make sure it never happens again.
“To do this, we need transparency. The Governor has repeatedly blocked efforts at transparency and fought releasing documents that could help us to prevent these mistakes from happening again. It is not acceptable in a free society to block public documents from the press.
“On the economy, many businesses have closed for good. Our unemployment levels remain too high and lag the region.
“The governor repeatedly said that ‘data determines dates,’ but has not shared what metrics guide his unilateral decisions. Because of that, his decisions and executive orders can seem arbitrary and unpredictable. This has made it difficult for our restaurants and Main Street shops to plan for their survival.
“Efforts by Republicans to appropriate billions in federal CARES Act funds promptly to support New Jersey’s small businesses and nonprofits were blocked at every turn. The governor let the money collect dust while businesses were going under, now with reports of one-third of small businesses in the state permanently closed, permanently destroying livelihoods of our friends and fellow New Jerseyans. It didn’t make any sense.
“And let’s not forget that the Governor grossly exaggerated the State’s budget deficit — at times saying it was $20 billion or $30 billion — to gain support for harmful tax increases and to convince the courts to support a massive borrowing scheme that would have been unconstitutional in any other situation. This will impact the State’s finances and cost our taxpayers for years to come, robbing critical funding our schools, infrastructure and property tax relief, to instead pay off massive debt for decades. Our state is now facing another financial rating downgrade, the lowest point in history.
“We hope the governor will work more with the Legislature this year, and strive to find bipartisan consensus on issues that matter to our state. These tumultuous times demand we transcend partisanship. Our caucus pledges to work with our colleagues across the aisle to do what’s in the best interest of New Jersey. We will be unafraid to debate when we think they or the governor are wrong, and we also are unafraid to extend our hands in friendship and cooperation to help our state and country get through these challenging times.”
STATE SEN. KRISTIN CORRADO (R-TOTOWA)
“Clearly, the Governor’s version of the State’s condition is nothing like the reality experienced by everyday New Jerseyans. Today’s address was further proof that Murphy is detached from State residents. He doesn’t understand us because he isn’t one of us.
“This has been one of the worst years on record for our State, yet the Governor spent a half hour patting himself on the back. He cannot relate to the challenges, the struggles, the worries of working families and seniors on fixed incomes who has suffered immeasurably during the pandemic.
“The Administration’s disastrous mismanagement of the coronavirus in veteran’s homes and long-term care facilities claimed 7,500 lives.
“New Jersey’s vaccine rollout is one of the slowest in the nation, and it was botched from the start.
“The systemic incompetence at unemployment and the Motor Vehicle Commission was a national embarrassment.
“And the business landscape will take decades to recover from the damage of Murphy’s lockdowns and restrictions that devastated Main Streets from one end of the State to the other. More than one-third of all small businesses in the New Jersey have closed their doors forever, and those that held on are struggling for survival. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.
“That is the reality: What are you looking at, Governor?
“New Jersey residents deserve investigations, accountability and leadership. Instead Murphy took a victory lap and reveled in his alternative reality.”
DEMOCRATIC STATE CHAIRMAN JOHN CURRIE
“Today Governor Murphy laid out a clear vision for the future of our great state as we continue to work through one of the most challenging episodes in our history. Governor Murphy’s steadfast leadership has helped us reach this point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I know that he will continue to guide us forward. Whether that means ensuring that every willing adult can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, investing in our long term future by funding public education and transportation, supporting small businesses or providing tax relief to middle class families, I know that we can count on Governor Murphy to move New Jersey forward.”
STATE SEN. JAMES HOLZAPFEL (R-TOMS RIVER)
“The State of the State would have been stronger if Governor Murphy did not cripple our economy unnecessarily. Unfortunately, the Governor echoed the same rhetoric during his address that he has for years. And due to his careless policies—especially related to the COVID-19 pandemic—he drove two million New Jerseyans into a broken unemployment system, sat on billions of dollars in federal CARES Act relief funds, and repeatedly blocked Republican legislation that would have helped small businesses and nonprofits keep their lights on during their time of need.”
ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN CATALANO (R-BRICK)
“The Governor still has not taken responsibility or expressed regret concerning his administration’s disastrous response to the pandemic. Whether it’s missing a deadline to file simple paperwork for vaccine orders or prioritizing inmates over the elderly for vaccine distribution, the administration has consistently failed to inspire confidence in New Jerseyans. Instead, the Governor continues to pursue his own agenda by issuing harmful executive orders in an effort to avoid Legislative oversight.”
ASSEMBLYMAN GREG McGUCKIN (R-TOMS RIVER)
“Governor Murphy continues to talk about working together and reaching across the aisle. Yet, just recently, he vetoed a bipartisan bill that passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously that would have helped our struggling restaurant industry survive during this pandemic. This is just the most recent example of Governor Murphy continuing to ignore the Legislature and the needs of the people he was elected to serve.”