Yesterday, on Jan.9, NJ Governor Phil Murphy delivered his 2024 State of the State Address, outlining the state’s future, including its triumphs and what still needs to be repaired. Murphy highlighted how in a time defined by inflation, high interest rates and the end of a pandemic, building a more inclusive and structurally sound New Jersey is essential.
NJ’s Affordability & Cost of Living
The first major issue that Governor Murphy tackled was the cost of living in New Jersey. While the state’s economy has more than doubled and 200,000 jobs have been created since Murphy took over, too many still struggle to make a living in the Garden State.
Since the start of his administration, Governor Murphy has enacted 20 separate tax cuts for middle class families and seniors. He also helped create the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters (ANCHOR) program, which provides property tax relief to New Jersey citizens who meet a certain income limit.
To continue his efforts, a new legislation was recently put into place, officially setting New Jersey’s minimum wage at $15.13 per hour, nearly double what it was when Governor Murphy took office.
“When I talk to families across our state, they tell me it’s harder to make ends meet, harder to cover the costs of everyday necessities,” stated Governor Murphy during the address. “They live with the fear that they are one bad diagnosis or one missed paycheck away from financial ruin or that they’ll never be able to own a home or send their kids to college. I hear these voices and I understand these fears.”
Governor Murphy emphasized his desire for all New Jerseyans to be able to live out the ‘American Dream’, having the privilege of homeownership and access to affordable housing. He believes that these luxuries should not just be handed to those at the top but for every working citizen in the state who deserves to live comfortably.
Providing More Voting & Reproductive Rights to NJ Citizens
Abortion rights were one of the biggest debates in 2023 among politicians and Governor Murphy made it clear that in New Jersey, all women will have the right to an abortion. Later this year, women in New Jersey will be able to walk into a pharmacy and purchase birth control without a prescription.
During the address, Governor Murphy also called for the legislature to pass a bill to remove out-of-pocket costs from abortion procedures and best ensure the safety of patients and providers.
Voting has never been easier thanks to Governor Murphy’s administration, with automatic voter registration, early in-person voting and online voter registration all making it easier for New Jersey citizens to let their voices be heard. Additionally, over 80,000 citizens who were on probation or parole had their voting rights restored.
To grant voting rights to even more New Jerseyans, Governor Murphy recently signed a bill allowing 17 year olds to vote in the primary election, as long as they will turn 18 by the general election.
Creating A Safer NJ By Reducing Gun Violence
To ensure a safer New Jersey, minimizing the amount of gun violence in the state is essential. In 2023, the state had its lowest number of shootings in almost 15 years. Governor Murphy credited the funding of community-based violence prevention efforts.
Murphy also brought attention to the treatment of citizens in predominantly black and brown communities, stating that we, as a state, must aid those who were unjustly imprisoned and help them return back to society.
“I will be announcing a new clemency initiative that will ensure we live up to our promise as the state for second chances,” stated Governor Murphy. “Reforming our criminal justice system strikes right at the heart of building a stronger and fairer New Jersey.”
The Governor looks to build on this progress to create a more effective justice system that can help aid people who have had trouble with the law before.