New governor means change is coming for N.J. business

The inauguration of Phil Murphy, Jan. 16, 2018

By Anjalee Khemlani
Trenton | Jan 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy has signaled dramatic changes in the way businesses will be treated under his administration, starting right after his inauguration.

After taking the oath of office Tuesday, Murphy said he will sign an executive order to support equal pay for women.

In his inaugural address, he reiterated campaign promises, and laid out his agenda, which includes diversity, small business, property tax relief, public school funding, criminal justice reform, raising the minimum wage to $15 and equal pay for women, as well as marijuana legalization.

“A stronger and fairer New Jersey creates tools for small businesses and women-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses to thrive, instead of delivering massive tax breaks to a handful of select and connected big corporations that don’t need them in the first place,” Murphy said.

“A stronger and fairer New Jersey ensures the wealthiest among us pay their fair share in taxes so working and middle-class families can keep more of their hard-earned money.”

On Murphy’s promise to raise the minimum wage, Laurie Ehlbeck, New Jersey state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, expressed concern.

“The small business community is certainly concerned with what was said today. In order for the small business community to be part of a stronger and fairer New Jersey, the impact that enacting a minimum wage of $15 an hour and mandating paid leave across the state will have on job creation and our state’s economy as a whole must be considered,” she said. “Retaining people in this state or even attracting new residents here are certainly priorities that Gov. Murphy shares with small business owners. However, many of today’s proposals discourage job creation and expansion of the private sector. In order for New Jersey to remain competitive with other states, we must focus on economic development, not additional regulation.”

Thumbing his nose at the federal government, Murphy took aim at President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“We must also immediately resist Washington’s all-out assault on New Jersey,” he said.

Taking a swipe at Trump, Murphy discussed supporting the Paris Climate accord, and upholding the U.S. as a beacon of hope to other countries.

“It is leadership that has made our country a place where immigrants still come in hope of a better future … it includes those from Haiti and the continent of Africa,” Murphy said.

He discussed marijuana legalization, among other topics, for which he promised a bill-signing ceremony.

In addition, Murphy hit all the buzz words for diversity and inclusion, and encouraged a move away from the direction Washington is taking.

“We will resist every attempt to define who is, and who is not, a real American, to delegitimize our LGBTQ brothers and sisters or to divide us based on how we worship. And we must reject President Trump’s dark belief of an America in decline and in carnage,” he said.

Murphy also projected hopes of unifying the ongoing geographical divisions in the state.

“From our cities to our suburbs, from the Shore to our farms, I feel the intense energy for a stronger future built right here,” he said. “We are one New Jersey — north, central, and south — an extended family striving for success.”

Other divides in the state under the previous administration have also changed, according to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees).

“New Jersey is one of just a handful of states right now that is uniquely positioned with both Democratically-controlled executive and legislative branches. It’s time for us to get to work and demonstrate to the nation how inclusive policies that strive to build up the working and middle class people of our state will make us stronger as a whole,” he said in a statement following the inauguration. “I hope our friends in the Republican Party will continue to work together with us in a bipartisan fashion much the way we did under Gov. Christie.”

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Anjalee Khemlani | akhemlani@roi-nj.com | AnjKhem