“My fellow New Jerseyans: I don’t need to tell you these are different times … so, this is a different kind of speech.”
This is how Gov. Phil Murphy began his State of the State address Tuesday afternoon. And, if you missed it, don’t worry — there figure to be plenty of chances for you to hear it in the coming year. This was his stump speech for his reelection.
Murphy’s State of the State address was little more than an hourlong reciting of his vision for the state — stronger and fairer — and all he feels he has done to accomplish that.
He talked of how the state has raised the minimum wage, passed paid sick leave and a millionaire’s tax — as if anyone was unaware of this. He talked about Economic Development Authority grants for businesses and new incentive programs, bridging the digital divide and moratorium on evictions, commitment to New Jersey Transit safety and hope for the Gateway Tunnel project.
All fine accomplishments. This wasn’t fake news — it was old news. The stuff that will bring big cheers at campaign rallies for what appears to be a near certain reelection later this year. And, a year ago, this would all have been fine.
These are different times. And not the time for patting oneself on the back.
Murphy should have spent the speech addressing the three biggest issues we face as a state.
- Vaccination: It’s nice to reiterate that we have a plan. It would have been nicer to hear the plan on how we are going to speed up the vaccination process — or why so many doses the state has still haven’t been administered. What is the actual order for 1C, 1D, 1E — or however long the list will be? Is anything more important than speaking in great detail on how the state is doing everything it can to quickly vaccinate the population? Ask yourself, do you know anyone who has any idea when they might get vaccinated?
- Reopening: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally said his state is going to speed up its reopening process, for fear there may be nothing left to reopen if he doesn’t. Is New Jersey close to doing that? What is the actual data that will determine that? What is the point of no return? Business owners would love to know.
- Schools: When, if ever, is the state going to push for more in-school learning? When is every teacher going to be vaccinated — if that is what it takes? When are our kids going to be back in the classroom where they so desperately need to be?
It’s Jan. 12, 2021. Best we can tell, this is the state of our state: The average New Jerseyan wants to know when they are going to be vaccinated, when they can drop their kid off at school — and when they can start going back to work and out to eat.
Everything else is just a campaign speech.