Insider NJ

In State of the State, Gov. Murphy Fights for Working Families

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director: "These past three years have been a demanding and unprecedented time to be."

Insider NJ — January 12, 2021

In response to Governor Murphy's State of the State presentation today, NJ Citizen Action releases the following statement:

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director:

"These past three years have been a demanding and unprecedented time to be New Jersey Governor, with equally demanding pressures and expectations. New Jersey needed extraordinary leadership and Governor Murphy has delivered it, even as he continues to work through the enormous triple threats of our time — the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic fallout of the pandemic, and the dangers to our democracy posed by Trump and the right-wing factions of our country.

As Governor Murphy detailed in his State of the State speech today, in the past three years he has been laser focused on the working families of NJ and ways to improve their economic security and lives. No New Jersey Governor has done more to improve the lives of working families in so short a time. Governor Murphy has delivered many of the key policy changes long held as priorities by NJCA and our community of low- and middle-income families and individuals: a minimum wage increase, earned sick and safe days, the millionaires tax, an expanded and improved paid family and medical leave program, a state based insurance exchange to improve health care access, greater affordable college options, addressing racial health disparities for black and brown moms, health care affordability policies such as subsidies for families struggling to afford coverage, the establishment of a student loan ombudsman, stronger equal pay protections for women and minorities, and so much more.

We are pleased to hear today the Governor's continued plans to stay focused on fighting and putting the COVID-19 virus in check, as well as helping all New Jerseyans recover economically from the pandemic's toll on our economy. An important component of this recovery is his stated commitment to making health coverage more affordable for the state's uninsured and supporting providers who still care for them. We were also especially pleased to hear the Governor's plans to focus on access to quality and affordable childcare and daycare, a major need of working families during the pandemic and a major challenge before it. We cheer his commitment to criminal and prison reforms which are long overdue and a necessary component of racial justice and fairness.

In the coming years, NJCA is urging the Governor and the Legislature to do more to protect workers and families threatened by the health and economic risks of the virus. We must expand sick days and paid leave for working parents and caregivers. We need more direct assistance for families hit economically by the pandemic, including for rent, mortgage, and utility bills. We are thrilled to hear the Governor prioritize the People's Bill, which would ensure all who fell behind on mortgage and rent payments will have a chance to pay their arrears back on a feasible schedule and hold onto their housing instead of facing eviction. Nevertheless, we continue to urge the Governor and Legislature to provide urgent assistance to immigrant families left out of federal and state aid, who have now struggled to survive for almost a year in a damaged economy with no assistance at all.

Finally, we want to applaud and underscore the massive importance of any and all steps the Governor has laid out to protect and revitalize our democracy. The attacks of the Trump years from the President and his enablers have chipped away at our democratic institutions, norms, and processes. Our democracy is gasping for breath.

We are hopeful President Biden will restore democratic protections and guardrails, but here in New Jersey we are facing our own threats that cannot be ignored. Incredibly consequential legislation has been fast-tracked through the Legislature with purposeful attempts to sidetrack or limit public and advocate input. We saw this recently with the new corporate tax incentive program, A4/S3295. A hamstrung legislative process means less accountability for lawmakers, more influence from moneyed interests, and average New Jerseyans disconnected from our democracy and left out in the cold. This trend against public involvement must be put in check now.

Regardless, we are grateful for Governor Murphy's leadership and commitment to the needs of low- and middle-income families. He is an invaluable and cherished partner in the fight for a better New Jersey for all. We look forward to continue working with him and his staff to increase affordable health care access, advance racial justice, improve labor protections, fight economic inequality, and safeguard our democracy for years to come."

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