Saying his goal was to “vaccinate every willing New Jersey adult resident” in order to bring normalcy back to the Garden State, Governor Phil Murphy delivered his State of the State Address on Tuesday, not before a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature, but in a pre-recorded address in an empty theater.  Such is the world of the COVID-19 pandemic were are living in.

The Governor also targeted many other issues, including a pledge for larger support for schools, infrastructure needs, voting rights, the economy and social justice reforms.  He also spoke of creating the framework for marijuana legalization.

Reaction was swift and, as is always the case, partisan.  Democrats praised the Governor, while Republicans were quick to criticize, such as this reaction from Assembly Minority Leader, Jon Bramnick, who stated, “The governor has been wrong to support any tax increases and said he’s emblematic of the overreach of Trenton and Democrats over the last 20 years. (He’ll) no longer have the opportunity to point at Donald Trump or to point at Chris Christie,” Bramnick, R-Union, said during a Zoom news conference. “No excuses from now until November.  It is time to enact sane, fiscal policies,” he added.

New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie issued the following statement following the Governor’s address:

“Today Governor Murphy laid out a clear vision for the future of our great state as we continue to work through one of the most challenging episodes in our history. Governor Murphy’s steadfast leadership has helped us reach this point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I know that he will continue to guide us forward. Whether that means ensuring that every willing adult can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, investing in our long term future by funding public education and transportation, supporting small businesses or providing tax relief to middle class families, I know that we can count on Governor Murphy to move New Jersey forward.”

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and the Democratic Majority Leadership Team issued this joint quote:

“We applaud the Governor’s State of the State address for its optimistic tone and emphasis on successes we have achieved over the past three years. We share his recognition of the real challenges we face. It is clear we must ensure that as many of New Jersey’s nine million residents as possible are vaccinated as quickly as possible. Facing this pandemic head-on is critical to making sure our students are back to school as quickly as possible. 2020 did include many positives. We are particularly pleased we were able to reduce taxes for working families with either a larger earned income tax credit or a direct rebate, or both. We look to continue to support Main Street businesses which are the backbone of our economy. We agree with Governor Murphy that we must make our healthcare system more transparent, more accessible, and more affordable. This must include a focus on behavioral health programs that are vital to countless New Jerseyans. The Assembly will continue to explore legislative action to ensure the middle class, seniors and our most vulnerable are protected as we return to relative normalcy in 2021. 2020 was a year unlike any other for all of us, but we are confident that we are well positioned for a bright future in the near and long term.”

If you haven’t yet seen the Governor’s speech, You can watch our 2021 State of the State address here.