Murphy State Of The State: Raise Minimum Wage, Legalize Marijuana, More

January 15, 2019 - 7:51 pm

TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy got the worst out of the way first during his State of the State address Tuesday, announcing a new investigation that found corporations squandered billions in tax breaks without creating the jobs they promised.

“This is just the latest glaring example of what we're up against: A system that has been rigged to work for a favored few,” the Democratic governor said.

In his first address, Murphy pitched his vision for the state after serving only one year in office, including legalizing recreational marijuana and raising the minimum wage.

“We just don't have the wallet to match his heart,” said State Assembly minority leader Jon Bramnick.

While Murphy wants to keep New Jersey focused on big ticket items, Bramnick says he sees a glaring omission.

“There was no plan, not one mention, of how he was going to make this state affordable,” the Republican said.

Republican leaders said Murphy also failed to address the state's high taxes.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. joined Bramnick saying the governor was wrong to believe increasing taxes will help boost the economy and address budget constraints.

In his speech, Murphy said he wants New Jersey to develop a new mindset.

“Being competitive isn’t a race to give out the biggest tax breaks, it's about leading the way on education, infrastructure and diversity and inclusion,” the governor said.

He called for overhauling the state's tax credit programs and hailed achievements from his first year in office, including increased pension and school funding payments. They were financed in part by higher income and business taxes.

On the infrastructure point, he noted the continuing struggles of NJ Transit, and touted the improvements that have been made since he took office.

“I am committed to making NJ Transit the turnaround story of New Jersey,” Murphy said.

While the installation of federally mandated safety technology is now done, he says there are more challenges ahead.

“NJ Transit's full focus will be on improving customer communications, service and reliability,” the governor reiterated.

The Democrat also took aim at the $8 billion in awards from his predecessor Chris Christie's administration and called himself a “pro-growth progressive.”

Furthermore, he has renewed his calls for a $15 minimum wage and the legal use of recreational marijuana. Both items have stalled in the Democrat-led Legislature.