Nearly two years to the day after he was sworn into office, Gov. Phil Murphyon Tuesday will call on lawmakers to change the culture of Trenton as he delivers his second State of the State address.
Murphy, who’s reaching the halfway point of his first term, is expected to highlight this larger issue as he lays out a vision for the next year that will have familiar themes, according to a person with knowledge of his speech but wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about its details.
That includes a renewed push for the Democratic-controlled Legislature to get behind his income tax hike for New Jerseyans who earn more than $1 million annually. Murphy has also railed against what he’s referred to as former Gov. Chris Christie’s “gimmick” of cutting the state’s 7% sales tax to 6.625 %.
But the governor will also express his desire to do something he’s talked about in passing. Murphy, who never held elected office before he was governor, will talk about the need to change the culture in Trenton.
The Democratic governor in his speech will advocate for ethics reforms and the need to change New Jersey politics’ treatment of women, according to the source.
Sexual harassment against women is again a topic in Trenton after a top state senator announced plans to form an ad hoc committeeto change the “toxic culture that women face in New Jersey politics" in response to an NJ Advance Media report detailing the sexual harassment, groping and sexual assault of women working in state and local politics.
The governor referred to the report as “pretty shocking” and “awful,"and has said his administration would take part in the committee.
Among the revelations in the report was that several women said they continue to believe it is best to stay silent in the wake of Katie Brennan’s allegation that she was raped by Murphy’s former campaign adviser Albert Alvarezin 2017. That accusation, made public in 2018, led to legislative hearingsand public scrutiny of Brennan.
While ethics and systemic change will be new threads in his speech, it’s unclear if the governor will announce plans to push for specific legislation.
Murphy is also expected to return to familiar themes in the speech, touting what he sees as accomplishments in his first two years and arguing more needs to be done to help the state’s middle class.
Murphy has already told NJ Advance Media one of his big goals for 2020 is raising taxes on New Jersey millionaires.
“I’ll push for a millionaires (tax) until we get it,” Murphy, a multimillionaire himself, said during a sit-down interview last month. “Not just in the next budget.”
But twice, his fellow Democrats who lead the state Legislature told him no, saying the Garden State is already over-taxed and they won’t agree to hikes without spending cuts and other reforms.
The governor will continue to push for the millionaire’s tax in Tuesday’s speech before a joint session of the Legislature.
He may also once again push to raise taxes and fees on opioid manufacturers and to target companies that don’t offer health care to their employees.
The accomplishments Murphy is expected to tout include signing a law to gradually increase New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, restoring funding for Planned Parenthood, signing sweeping equal payand gun-controllaws, and introducing a plan for the state to get 100 percent of its powerfrom clean sources by 2050.
The speech is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Assembly chamber at the Statehouse.
NJ Advance Media Staff Writer Brent Johnsoncontributed to this report.
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