Murphy’s First 100 Days; RPA Assembly; Bergen Shuffle

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

Murphy Hits Century Mark

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 marked 100 days in office for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. We suspect that many of our readers have an idea how they would grade the Governor at this symbolic milestone. We have our own thoughts but want to hear yours! Comment and let us know. Here’s our assessment in the meantime…

This week, Murphy signed into law the strongest pay equity law in the nation. Cheered by lawmakers and advocates at the bill signing ceremony, Murphy clearly relished the accomplishment. The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act – named for retired Senator Diane Allen who experienced wage discrimination earlier in her career as a TV reporter in Philadelphia – takes effect on July 1, 2018. The law represents the culmination of years of efforts to ensure that women receive equal pay; it also voids a series of vetoes by former Governor Chris Christie. The new law is a significant accomplishment Murphy and also for the Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, who sponsored the bill in their respective chambers.

Pay equity is just one of the nine bills that Murphy has signed during his first 100 days. Many of them, including restoring funding for women’s health care, instituting voter registration when residents apply for a drivers license, and banning offshore drilling in New Jersey waters, are consistent with campaign pledges made by the Governor.

Murphy’s team played a key role in negotiating the final language of a controversial nuclear subsidy bill, which recently passed along with two bills intended to support renewable energy sources. The Governor is expected to sign the three-bill package, which recently passed both chambers of the Legislature. Back in December, Governor-elect Murphy insisted that the nuclear bill be reworked to include provisions for renewable energy sources, sparking several months of intense negotiating between the Murphy Administration, the Legislature, and key industry stakeholders. The nuclear bill subsidizes that industry and its largest player, PSEG. A second bill would adjust the State’s renewable portfolio standard to ramp up the total megawatts generated by solar. A third bill would resurrect an offshore wind project that had previously stalled. Support the bills or not, they represent an early legislative win for Murphy.

Murphy is committed to fixing NJ TRANSIT, another campaign pledge, and is making meaningful progress. He nominated a class act in Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation and appointed an experienced technocrat Kevin Corbett as Executive Director. He earmarked $382 million for NJ TRANSIT operations in his inaugural budget, just announced the hiring of 40 new bus drivers, and recently announced a deal to lease rail cars from Maryland’s MARC transit agency to help alleviate overcrowding on New Jersey’s system.

The Murphy Administration effectively managed response to four nor’easters over three weeks in March. From clearing roads and maintaining essential services to promising to hold utility companies accountable for their own storm response, the Administration handled one of the basics of governing – storm response – very well.

Murphy also populated a cabinet that looks a lot like New Jersey: majority female and inclusive of many minority groups.

Murphy assessed his own progress at the 100 day mark by saying his Administration has made “a lot of progress, but a long way to go.”

RPA’s Annual Assembly

On Friday, April 27, 2018, the Regional Plan Association will hold its annual Assembly at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan. The Assembly brings together government, business and civic leaders from around the region to discuss issues vital to our region’s future. The 2018 Assembly will feature Big Ideas that Can’t Wait — ideas we need to move forward on today to tackle some of the region’s biggest challenges in order to ensure sustainability, good governance and shared prosperity.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will offer the morning keynote and will not doubt touch on some of his First 100 Days accomplishments including NJ TRANSIT and renewable energy. Delivering the luncheon keynote will be former FLOTUS/Senator/Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic nominee for POTUS, Hillary Rodham Clinton. More information on the Assembly, including schedule and speakers here.

(Disclosure: NorthStar’s Joe Fiordaliso is a member of RPA’s New Jersey Committee)

The Wild, the Innocent & the Bergen Shuffle

Governor Phil Murphy recently nominated Senator Bob Gordon to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, replacing former President Rick Mroz. Gordon’s nomination was quickly approved by the Senate and he has resigned to assume his new post. District 38 Assemblyman Joe Lagana has been tapped to move up to the Senate and succeed Gordon. Assemblyman Tim Eustace, district mate to Gordon and Lagana, subsequently resigned from the Assembly to take a job at the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission. Eustace had also sought Gordon’s Senate seat and would have become the chamber’s first openly gay member. The shake-up means that Bergen County will pull from its deep bench to name two new members of the General Assembly. We’re thrilled for Gordon, whose deep policy knowledge will be an asset to the BPU. We’re likewise very happy for Lagana, a thoughtful and prudent legislator. Congratulations to Assemblyman Eustace as he begins his role as Deputy Director of the Commission.