Governor recaps accomplishments, rolls out new initiatives
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy delivered his sixth annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature in the General Assembly chambers on Tuesday. His address followed the swearing in of members of the 221st Legislature.
Murphy began by acknowledging the absence of Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver and Board of Public Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso, both who died in office since the Governor's last State of the State speech.
The Governor devoted a large portion of his address to accomplishments of the past six years, including:
- ANCHOR property tax relief program;
- Stay NJ property tax relief program for seniors to remain in New Jersey;
- $15/hr. minimum wage - which adjusts annually for inflation;
- Universal Pre-K - 14,000 New Jersey children enrolled to date;
- Labor apprenticeship programs in a number of emerging industries;
- Infrastructure investments including the Hudson Tunnel Rail Project which recently broke ground;
- Seven credit rating increases over six years;
- Full funding for New Jersey’s pension system in each of the past three years - and a prediction that a full payment will be included in his proposed FY2025 budget;
- 100% Clean Energy commitment by 2035 - with meaningful advances in offshore wind & solar development.
Murphy wove a number of new initiatives into his address, including:
Reproductive health care access - calling on the Legislature to pass legislation to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for abortion procedures and protect patients and providers.
Eliminating medical debt - proposing to give patients more time to negotiate a medical bill and the opportunity to seek financial assistance before debts can be sent to a collections agency or reported to a credit rating company. Murphy also touted a proposal he introduced in his FY2024 Budget Address in March to eliminate medical debt for individuals by investing $10 million to provide medical debt relief services to New Jerseyans.
Affordable housing reform - enacting legislation to eliminate a shortage of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units. The Governor said he looks forward to signing legislation — spearheaded by Senate President Nick Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez — which stalled at the end of the last legislative session.
Criminal justice reform - announcing a new clemency initiative to “ensure we live up to our promise as the state for second chances.” The Governor stated that additional details were forthcoming.
Expanded voting rights - enacting legislation to allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in local school board elections. The Governor also called on the Legislature to revive a bill to allow same-day voter registration.
Childhood literacy - improving elementary school literacy rates through a new program that will emphasize phonics-based reading strategies and other best practices. The Governor explained that this proposal is in response to alarming data on reading proficiency showing significant decreases from pre-pandemic levels.
Artificial Intelligence - launching a “AI Moonshot” to pioneer AI-powered breakthroughs over the next decade. Invoking President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 commitment to a Moon landing and comparing AI advances to the dawn of the internet, Murphy called on New Jersey to become a hub for AI innovation and technological advances.
Read the full text of the Governor's remarks as prepared, here.
Governor Murphy will address the Legislature again next month when he presents his FY2025 budget blueprint.