Photo credits to GovMurphy on X.

On Jan. 9, Governor Phil Murphy delivered his sixth State of the State Address in Trenton. In his speech, Murphy echoed the state’s efforts to make “New Jersey the best place anywhere to raise a family,” by making it more affordable, safer and securing fundamental rights. 

In his declaration to make New Jersey more affordable for more families, he talked about the state’s accomplishment in creating nearly 200,000 paying jobs since the last administration. With the opportunity for more jobs, Murphy also pointed out the commitment to bringing universal pre-K to all of New Jersey, allowing children a safe learning environment and parents the opportunity to work and provide for them. 

The Murphy administration is continuing their work in strengthening unionized workforce and doubling the number of apprenticeship programs in fields like life sciences, adult-use cannabis, home health care and clean energy.

Just a little over a week ago, Murphy announced that the state minimum wage would officially reach over $15 an hour, which is part of a legislation he signed in 2019. 

Credits: NJGov

In an attempt to continue helping families move forward in New Jersey, the governor reiterated the state’s 20 new tax cuts for middle-class families and seniors including ANCHOR program, which is a property tax relief program  for residents who own or rent property in New Jersey as their principal residence and meet certain income limits. The program has put nearly $2 billion back into the hands of more than 1.5 million senior and middle class families.

New Jersey property taxes are amongst the highest in the nation. 

Alleviating Medical Debt 

A continuing concern in the state is medical debt. Governor Murphy said, “more than one in ten of our neighbors has medical debt in collections. That number is even higher for communities of color.”

Because of this, Murphy called on the state to introduce a medical debt relief package that will help prevent families from falling into medical debt and protect them from medical debt collectors. In his speech, he asked for the first part of the package to be named The Louisa Carman Medical Debt Relief Act, honoring a member of his office who helped craft the proposal and passed away on New Year’s Day in a fatal car crash. 

More Affordable Housing 

With a growing influx of new residents in the state, there is a concern of affordable housing for New Jersey. The governor stated he looks forward to signing a legislation that will make it easier to build more affordable housing especially in areas that need it the most and are close to jobs, transit and local businesses.

Support For Small Businesses  

Being named the “most improved state” for businesses, Murphy highlighted the nearly $1B investment the administration has put into helping small businesses stay afloat and the assistance that has helped 60,000 new businesses open up over the last six years. 

Supporting New Jersey Infrastructure 

Murphy emphasized that in he is planning to see the Hudson Tunnel Rail Project move full speed ahead by investing billions into New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure including the Gateway Project. This project could open up roughly 70,000 union jobs.

Protecting Reproductive Freedom

Despite the abortion laws in other nations, New Jersey has pushed for the right to an abortion and restored funding for Planned Parenthood, while expanding access to birth control. He calls on the Legislature to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for abortion procedures and establish protections for patients, which he is hoping to do by the summer. 

Voting Rights 

Last week, Murphy signed a bill allowing 17-year-olds the right to vote if they turn 18 by the time of the general election. In his speech, he stated he continues on working to pass same-day voting registrations, and he is asking the Legislature to pass a new voting rights bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local school board elections. In his speech, he created the inspiration behind the proposal coming from Anjali Krishnamurti and Yenjay Hu, the co-founders of VOTE16NJ.

Other addresses Murphy made included:

  • an announcement of an “AI Moonshot” to push a new generation of AI-powered discoveries
  • continuing to uphold gun safety laws
  • reforming New Jersey’s criminal justice system
  • introducing new initiatives to increase literacy rates among children
  • working on powering New Jersey on 100 percent clean energy by 2035 
  • continuing efforts to bringing more innovation to New Jersey through life sciences, fintech, film and television production and  offshore wind

“Together, we are building a New Jersey that is better today and brighter tomorrow,” said Murphy. 

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