TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Governor Phil Murphy delivered New Jersey's State of the State address from Trenton Tuesday.
Murphy highlighted accomplishments from his first three years in office and reaffirmed his commitment to leading New Jersey through the COVID-19 public health crisis and improving the lives of New Jersey's families.
"Although wounded deeply, we enter 2021 tougher than ever, wiser than before, and ready to move forward together," he said. "Despite the ongoing pandemic, our mission of making New Jersey a stronger and fairer state for every family has not changed. We're proving that the best way to beat COVID-19 is by leaning in to smart investments with a forward-looking, principled vision for the future. Our priorities for the year ahead focus on the public health challenges at hand, while charting a path forward to build a stronger, fairer, and more resilient economy that works for every New Jersey family."
In his address, the Governor highlighted some of the accomplishments from his first three years in office, including:
- Establishing an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, giving more than one million families a stronger foothold in the middle class, and allowing those who aspire to enter the middle class the means to do so;
- Ensuring tax fairness through a millionaire's tax, easing the property tax burden on middle-class families and seniors, and doing more to help fund our public schools;
- Passing earned sick leave and expanding paid family and medical leave;
- Making high quality education more available and affordable to all with continued investments in pre-K and tuition-free community college;
- Moving toward full funding of our schools by restoring more than $750 million in direct classroom funding since 2018;
- Enacting sweeping and fundamental reforms to New Jersey's incentives program that will fuel job-creating small businesses and innovative startups;
- Restoring safety, service, and reliability to NJ TRANSIT by completing the federally mandated Positive Train Control technology and the hiring of engineers, conductors, and bus operators;
- Cementing New Jersey as the nation's offshore wind-energy leader with the creation of the New Jersey Wind Port and new manufacturing facility at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, both of which will bring thousands of good-paying union jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments; and,
- Reducing health care costs and eliminating surprise medical bills through our state-run health care exchange and the creation of the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency.
Governor Murphy also emphasized the following priorities for the coming year as part of his State of the State address:
- Continuing our statewide COVID-19 vaccination program and vaccinating every willing New Jersey adult resident;
- Supporting small businesses and innovative startups to promote good-paying, future focused jobs to build New Jersey's economy;
- Solidifying New Jersey's bridge and tunnel infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor through improvement projects at the Portal North Bridge and working with President-elect Biden to fund the Gateway Program and build new tunnels under the Hudson River;
- Building our clean energy economy by bringing together stakeholders to assess New Jersey's needs and develop a robust and equitable green jobs workforce development strategy;
- Codifying a woman's full reproductive rights into state law;
- Transforming our justice system to eliminate the root causes of systemic racism and make New Jersey's criminal justice system more transparent and fair;
- Expanding access to democracy by enacting early, in-person voting;
- Ensuring our students have the academic, digital, and social-emotional support needed as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Easing the burden of working parents by building out a robust and affordable child care support system;
- Improving our overall healthcare system to make it more transparent, more accessible, and more affordable;
- Instituting comprehensive ethics reforms to ensure transparency and accountability across government; and,
- Expanding opportunities for safe and affordable housing by providing assistance to New Jersey's renters and homebuyers, and giving renters impacted by the pandemic up to 30 months to make up for back rent.