Democrat Phil Murphy was sworn in as the governor of New Jersey Tuesday morning at the War Memorial in Trenton as the state bid farewell to Republican Chris Christie, the most unpopular governor in the history of New Jersey.
Murphy, who highlighted the diversity of his cabinet during a speech filled with optimism for the Garden State, promised to make New Jersey a leader in progressive policies. He voiced his support once again for legalizing marijuana. He also said the minimum wage in the state should be raised to $15 an hour. He received a standing ovation when he talked about policies that will support women, including the funding Planned Parenthood and an executive order he will sign this afternoon as one of his first official acts that will promote equal pay for women. Several policies he voiced support for during his speech are items Christie vetoed.
The crowd roared as Murphy praised immigrants who help build a better future in the state, “and that includes from Haiti and continent of Africa.”
Murphy said for too long, too much has been done by politicians in New Jersey for the short-term and only out of self-interest.
“The long-term common good, along with our confidence and optimism about what we can achieve, has suffered,” Murphy said. “New Jersey was once renowned for big ideas, and can be again. The public is tired of pessimistic and short-sighted thinking. They have rejected the politics of division, of us versus them, and asked us to focus on we — all nine million who call this great state home.”
New Jersey needs to create better jobs, provide higher wages attract innovative companies and become a state where millennials want to live and where seniors want to retire, he said. The state needs to fund its public schools and deliver on the promise of property tax relief, he said. He also reiterated his plan to make a four-year college more affordable and provides free access to community college.
The state should work to provide tools for small businesses, Murphy said, instead of delivering massive tax breaks “to a handful of select and connected big corporations that frankly don’t need them in the first place.” He also said that state government must ensure that the wealthiest pay their fair share in taxes so working and middle-class families can keep more of their hard earned money.
Murphy also said the state must accept the reality of climate change, invest aggressively in renewable energy, and uphold the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.
“For those of you who are debating whether to stay in New Jersey or leave, or perhaps, considering moving here from elsewhere, I commit to you — many years from now, when you look back, planting your flag in New Jersey will have been one of the smartest decisions you ever made,” Murphy said.
“New Jersey once was a national model for protecting the environment and growing an economy fueled by innovation and ideas.” Murphy said. “We were fiscally responsible and home to a thriving middle class, yet we ensured that the least among us had programs to help lift them from poverty. We have long had strong firearm laws that have kept guns out of the wrong hands and protected the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen.”
Murphy spoke about major ideas but did not offer details in his inaugural speech, saying he will go before the New Jersey Legislature to present his first budget soon to provide more details on his plans and proposals. He promised to have a budget “that is balanced fiscally and morally.”
“We will be bold, but we will be responsible and realistic. And in doing so we will send a loud and clear message that our days of muddling through from crisis to crisis are over – that we will charge forward with bold ideas and with a recognition that, while we can’t change everything overnight, we also can’t create a stronger tomorrow unless we start making smart investments today,” he said. “To my partners in the Legislature: I ask you to send me the bills, among others, to reaffirm our support for women’s health and Planned Parenthood; to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; to promote equal pay for women; to give every worker the peace of mind of earned sick leave; to tear down barriers to voting; and, to strengthen our gun laws.”
Murphy, who mentioned John Fitzgerald Kennedy in his speech and was sworn in using the Fitzgerald family Bible, vowed to resist Washington’s “all-out assault” on New Jersey. His comments about national politics fueled speculation that Murphy has national ambitions and is positioning himself for a presidential run.
“We will resist every move from President Trump and a misguided Congressional leadership that would worsen income inequality, or divide families or deny access to college for our Dreamers or defund essential infrastructure, or gut health care for our children, seniors, and the working poor, or provide a tax windfall to giant corporations and billionaires at the expense of our working and middle-class families,” Murphy said. “We will resist the dangerous and wrong attempt to allow drilling for oil off our precious shore. We will not allow this threat to our environment and our economy to stand. Our administration, along with the bipartisan support of our federal delegation, will not back down in our fight to protect the Jersey Shore from President Trump and the energy industry special interests.”
Murphy said the state will resist every attempt to define who is, and who is not, a real American, to delegitimize LGBTQ people, or divide people based on religion.
“We must reject President Trump’s dark belief of an America in decline and in carnage,” he said. “The current and unrelenting assault on our values will not stand, and we will combat it with every available means. We did not ask for this fight, but it is one that we must — and we will — take on.”