State of the State: Democrats, progressives loved it … Republicans, business groups not so much

Gov. Phil Murphy’s State of the State address Tuesday drew the standard responses:

  • Democrats praised it;
  • Republicans panned it;
  • Progressives loved it;
  • And business groups politely asked for it to include a little more for them.

(ROI-NJ thought it was too much of a campaign speech.)

Here’s a look at some of the reaction:

Business groups

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Bracken:

Tom Bracken. (File photo)

“As noted in his address, Gov. Murphy signed into law a sweeping new economic incentive package that helps make New Jersey more competitive and can serve as the foundation for the state’s economic growth. We also welcome initiatives that promote innovation, such as the venture fund encouraging public-private partnerships. We welcome the infrastructure investments the governor described in his speech, especially those for New Jersey Transit and the Portal Bridge project. We believe his continued investments in our education system are critical.

“Additionally, the state Legislature is considering a variety of measures that will strengthen economic recovery. These include tax incentives for hiring unemployed workers and reopening the economy on a regional basis. This is the kind of legislation that can grow our economy. However, as our many members tell us, it is critical to our state’s economic recovery that New Jersey businesses have ready access to capital if they are to survive the ongoing economic crisis. We urge Gov. Murphy and the Legislature to make access to capital for businesses a top priority.

“Equally important to an economic recovery is that we ‘turbocharge’ our COVID-19 vaccination processes while ensuring all safety measures remain in place. We urge our state government to help unleash the power of our business community by reducing taxes and the regulatory burdens placed on businesses.”

National Federation of Independent Business New Jersey Director Eileen Kean:

Eileen Kean. (File photo)

“The governor’s speech had a lot of slick video production, but there wasn’t much there for small businesses. As a matter of fact, when he listed his accomplishments, many have been mandates that are harmful to small businesses because they raised the overall cost of doing business.

“Now that many small businesses are hanging on by a thread financially, they may have preferred the governor didn’t borrow over $4 billion to fill a budget deficit because paying that bill and interest will fall on small businesses in the form of higher taxes.

“The governor said small businesses are the backbone of the local and state economy, but the incentive program he highlights really doesn’t offer economic relief to them, but instead to new startups or attracting businesses from out of state. We need a recovery plan that focuses on keeping the suffering businesses already located on Main Streets open.”

Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey CEO Christina Renna:

Christina Renna. (File photo)

“The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey was pleased to hear Gov. Murphy’s emphasis on the business community’s recovery from the pandemic, particularly the continued impact on small businesses and restaurants. With this in mind, the CCSNJ is hopeful that the governor will begin to address the state’s affordability issues in 2021 that continue to be a barrier for businesses’ ability to recover, and oppose any additional mandates and tax increases in 2021, which directly impact residents and small businesses alike. The CCSNJ stands ready to work with the administration on policies that will put all businesses and New Jerseyans on the path to economic recovery.”


New Jersey Policy Perspective President Brandon McKoy:

Brandon McKoy. (File photo)

“By rejecting austerity and, instead, investing heavily in public schools, the social safety net and health care, New Jersey is in a good position to chart a strong and swift pandemic recovery. Putting the needs of the many before those of a few should serve as a roadmap for other states as they continue to respond to COVID-19. To maintain a robust and equitable recovery, lawmakers must expand on these investments, especially for our immigrant communities, to ensure no one is left behind.

“We welcome Gov. Murphy’s renewed call for ethics reform in the halls of power in New Jersey. All lawmakers have a responsibility to improve public trust in government. That can only be accomplished by bringing much-needed transparency and accountability back into the legislative process. We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature on these priorities, and more, in the year ahead.”

CWA NJ State Director Hetty Rosenstein:

Hetty Rosenstein. (File photo)

“Gov. Phil Murphy — helped by a Legislature that stepped up — made sensible and sound decisions regarding our state’s budget, priorities and the public health. As we near the light at the end of this dark tunnel, CWA looks back on the past months with pride in our extraordinary members who’ve given their all.

“Our optimism, even in the face of more months of the virus to come, is only marred by the recent and horrific events in Washington and the disappointment we feel at the lack of courage and candor from some elected officials. Unionism and collective bargaining are the heart and soul of democracy. And CWA will continue our work on the front lines of not only providing services, but of rejecting authoritarianism, white nationalism and the scourge of bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head.”


State Committee Chairman John Currie:

John Currie. (Democratic State Committee)

“Gov. 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. Gov. 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 Gov. Murphy to move New Jersey forward.”


State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Holmdel):

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon. (File photo)

“The administration seems to be painting a much rosier picture of what has, and is, happening in the state right now. Chief among those misconceptions is the statement that they have protected businesses and grants from the EDA have allowed businesses to stay open. While I’m sure those grants or loans have helped some, they haven’t made up for the months-overdue increase in restaurant capacity. Nor have they addressed just how difficult it was for business owners to navigate the cumbersome state application process. At the same time, the governor has vetoed several of my bipartisan bills that would increase grants and aid to the restaurant and hospitality industry.”

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel):

“I’m glad to see the governor acknowledge that small business is the backbone of our community. Unfortunately, actions speak louder than words. We hear every day from our small business community of the trials they face, which it seems this government has turned a deaf ear to. Many of the grants which have saved businesses were because Monmouth County’s leadership, and other counties around the state, stood together to ensure that small businesses received necessary funding quickly.”