By MAYA PAGE
(TEANECK) – Phil Murphy was sworn in as the 56th Governor of New Jersey on Jan. 16, opening a new era for the Garden State. With Murphy’s election there are high expectations for major changes after eight years of Chris Christie as governor. Going from a conservative Republican to a liberal Democrat will be a huge shift for policies and tone throughout New Jersey.
Murphy’s filled his cabinet with a diverse group of firsts: the first Sikh- American Attorney General in the nation’s history, the first Muslim-American cabinet official in the state’s history and the first Lieutenant Governor of color.
It is still early to judge how Murphy will fulfill his promises, but what is clear is his determination to do everything opposite of President Donald Trump. His opposition to Trump has been well-known through his campaign and during his inaugural speech.
“We will resist every move from President Trump and a misguided congressional leadership,” Murphy said during his inaugural address. “We must reject President Trump’s dark belief of an America in decline and in carnage.”
Murphy’s slogan, “A stronger and fairer New Jersey,” defines his optimism and confidence moving forward with progressive policies. His liberal values show through promises of the wealthy paying higher taxes, more funding for Planned Parenthood, making New Jersey a sanctuary state for immigrants, criminal justice reform and the legalization of marijuana.
After a couple weeks in office, Murphy has taken action following through on some campaign promises. Three hours after being sworn in, he called a press conference to sign his first executive order to combat unequal pay for women. The order prohibits state entities from inquiring about a job applicant’s current or prior salaries, in order to fight the gender pay gap in New Jersey, according to Pix 11 News.
Concerning his campaign against the Second Amendment, on Jan. 26 he attended a news conference about gun control at the Trenton YMCA.
“There are too many guns in our streets and simply adding more into the equation will not make us or our communities any safer,” Murphy said.
According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, “Murphy declared that he is rolling back the executive orders issued by previous Governor Chris Christie,” attempting to lower the number of concealed carry permits.
The NRA article called Murphy’s action hypocritical, as the governor has around- the-clock armed security funded by New Jersey taxpayers.
Murphy has not only begun to tackle gun control laws, but has also followed up on his campaign pledge to legalize marijuana. Murphy named the head of a marijuana trade group as his chief of staff, and it is predicted that by late next year adults will be able to participate in no-questions- asked marijuana sales around the state, according to NorthJersey.com.
During a visit to the Breakwater Treatment and Wellness center in Cranbury, one of the state’s five medical marijuana dispensaries, Murphy learned more about the benefits of marijuana for seniors and terminally ill patients.
On Jan. 23, the new governor signed an executive order for state agencies to evaluate the state’s existing rules and find ways to expand access within 60 days.
Murphy’s promises to the citizens of New Jersey have raised questions on how he will uphold his agenda and how it will be paid for. Fully financing public education, free community college, raising the hourly minimum wage to $15, creating a state bank, converting to 100% clean energy and a reformed pension system can prove to be expensive plans.
According to USA Today, Murphy anticipates raising about $1.3 billion in new tax revenues to help pay for some of his campaign promises. The article went on to state that Murphy proposed a millionaire’s tax on the wealthy to raise money for his budget, however with the Trump administration’s overhaul of the U.S. tax code, there is no support in the legislature for that idea.