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Murphy sworn in, pledges 'stronger, fairer' NJ

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Gov. Phil Murphy addresses the crowd at inauguration.
Gov. Phil Murphy addresses the crowd at inauguration. - ()

Phil Murphy was sworn in Tuesday as New Jersey's 56th governor, and he pledged to move the state past legacy issues inherited by his administration, push back against the policies of the Trump administration and promote economic diversity and equity.

“Today, and together, we embark on writing a new chapter in our history. However, instead of writing yet more pages about age-old problems that never go away, let’s write about the solutions,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s inaugural address centered around his campaign message to create a “stronger and fairer” New Jersey, a phrase he invoked frequently throughout the speech on a variety of issues, many of which were consistent with what he campaigned on during the election.

“A stronger and fairer New Jersey funds its public schools and delivers on the promise of property tax relief, makes four-year college more affordable and provides free access to community college,” said Murphy in the portion of his speech that touched on several of the issues he ran on, including growing the state’s economy, taxing the wealthy, reforming the criminal justice system and legalizing marijuana.

The governor said specifics for many of these issues would become clearer in the coming weeks.

Murphy asked the Legislature to send him bills that raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, promote equal pay for women and paid sick leave for workers, make voting more accessible and strengthen gun laws.

Other issues such as pensions and funding infrastructure projects were not mentioned directly.


Instead, Murphy framed his policy priorities around doing what’s best for the state while committed to working across the aisle with state Republicans to forward his agenda. Both the state Assembly and Senate are currently controlled by the Democrats.

“Our commitment to finding common ground across the aisle is genuine,” Murphy said. “I know that if we forge our future together, we will get there faster and stronger, and it will last longer than if we go it alone.”

Murphy’s commitment to consolidating bipartisan support may be due in part by his intention to push back against policies implemented by President Trump that he believes negatively impact New Jersey.

“This is not as much a battle between Democrats and Republicans, but a battle between right and wrong — between standing up for the people of New Jersey or standing for failed Washington politics,” said Murphy, adding his administration would “resist every move from President Trump and a misguided congressional leadership.”

Some of the issues Murphy mentioned affect the state directly, such as opposing the recent tax reform or federal interest in drilling for oil off the Jersey Shore. Others went beyond that scope, with the governor throwing his support behind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Paris Climate Accord.

Diversity was a key theme in Murphy’s comments. He took a moment to recognize the diversity of his cabinet, including Gurbir Grewal, the first Sikh-American attorney general in the nation; Marlene Caride, the first Latina to lead the Department of Banking and Insurance; and Jemal Beale, the first African-American to lead the state’s National Guard.

Murphy’s resolved to tackling decades-old problems and tackling new challenges, despite the state’s lackluster financial state and the nationwide fatigue for politics. He said he remained optimistic about the future despite the challenges facing his administration.

“We can do this together if we approach politics not as a game to be won, but as a noble calling to be answered,” he said.

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Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn grew up in Massachusetts and previously covered the video game industry in Los Angeles, city politics in Malibu, California, and local news in Bergen County before working at NJBIZ. He currently covers cannabis, government and tech.

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Dimitri January 16, 2018 2:39 pm

Ok, we get the message. Derail everything the President and any Republican says or does - not matter what it is. And "fairer" means take more of "Other People's Money" AKA wealth distribution. AKA Socialism, AKA Communism. As NJ continues to rank last in every category for a state and the businesses and wealth flee to other states, continuing the downward spiral of NJ.

ScottM January 16, 2018 2:40 pm

Well, it's time to pack up the factory and move out of Trenton to PA. Last business out turn off the lights.

Dimitri January 16, 2018 2:42 pm

Murphy, adding his administration would “resist every move from President Trump and a misguided congressional leadership.” And then............“We can do this together if we approach politics not as a game to be won, but as a noble calling to be answered,” he said.

Marlboro Mann January 16, 2018 3:02 pm

Frankly, taking more of my money to support people here illegally and hiding them from the Feds is hardly fair in my opinion.

Bernie January 16, 2018 3:03 pm

Murphy is a far left idealogue who conveniently overlooks the fact that since the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased 40% and is at all time record highs. This positively impacts anyone who has a 401-K, a retirement plan or is looking for employment since companies will be hiring more. The DemoRATS' idea of fairness is wealth distribution. We are already funding public schools to the hilt which is why NJ is the highest taxed state in the nation. We currently have ridiculously strong gun laws on the books so enough already with the PC bullshit Phil!

He should worry less about diversity and more about the competency of the individuals filling cabinet positions.
Apparently, he fired up a blunt prior to delivering this speech.

Gary R. January 16, 2018 3:29 pm

He's already taking a disruptive, divisive & negative tone. How about you stand on achievement Phil instead of preaching the same old Democratic anti-Trump narrative? He sounds like just another 'Tax & Spend' stuffed suit from Wall Street. And here I thought this guy had a chance to be different. Smh...

Sam One January 17, 2018 4:26 pm

$15/hr, paid time off, increases in electric costs: Time to pack up the factory and move across the river to PA. Last business out, turn out the nuclear-power lights.