7 takeaways from Murphy’s State of the State

Why governor sees N.J. as national leader … and more

Governor Murphy delivers the 2023 State of the State Address at the Assembly Chambers in Trenton on Tuesday, January 10th, 2023(Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office).

It’s the State of the State, which means Gov. Phil Murphy gets to share his vision of all he has done right — and all he intends to do — for the state.

With such an open book of possibilities, it’s always interesting to see what is selected for the speech.

Here is our recap of some of the items:

Envisioning New Jersey as a national leader

There are no doubts about how Murphy sees the state.

“Every New Jersey family can be proud to live in a state, which, in so many ways, is not just a model for our nation, but also leading our nation,” he said.

He rattled off all the reasons why: modern economy, best-in-the-nation public education system, clean energy economy, strong anti-gun measures, recognizing the inherent value of every member of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as social and environmental justice.

He also noted the state’s efforts in health care, including prioritizing youth mental health, maintaining and preserving every woman’s right to personal reproductive freedom and striving to improve maternal and infant health.

Creating the American Dream

No, not the facility in Bergen County, the ideal.

“We are rebuilding the American Dream right here — more expansive and inclusive than ever before — for all willing to put in the work.”

Murphy said New Jersey is truly becoming the State of Opportunity.

“We are shaping this ‘Next New Jersey’ in the service of growing and securing the middle class.”

Community safety, Part I (guns, car theft)

Murphy touted the state’s success curtailing gun violence — and its recent efforts to slow car thefts.

“Because of New Jersey’s strong gun safety laws, in 2022, we saw shootings go down 26% and gun homicides go down 17%,” he said.

In addition, from September through December, car thefts were down 13% from the same four months of 2021, Murphy said.

Community safety, Part II (efforts on opioids)

Murphy noted the preliminary numbers for 2022 showed 231 fewer drug-related deaths than in 2021 — the lowest statewide total since 2017. He then offered a new program that he hopes will lower it even further.

Late last month, the Department of Human Services received approval to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to allow any pharmacy to provide anonymous and free access to Naloxone to any individual, at any time, he said.

“To be sure, Naloxone alone is not going to end the opioid epidemic,” he said. “Turning back this challenge requires constant vigilance from all of us. But this nation-leading policy will ensure that a crucial and lifesaving tool is put in the hands of more people, free and anonymously, so we can save more precious lives and allow individuals struggling with addiction to seek treatment.”

Barely a mention of COVID

One sentence in a 56-minute speech: COVID-19 remains a public health reality, even though the numbers of people in our hospitals are less than one-third of what they were one year ago, and half of what they were two years ago, Murphy said.

Bringing some Jersey swagger

Murphy said Jersey Pride is bubbling up once again all throughout our state.

“We’ve always had a swagger,” he said. “In past times, it was our line of defense against any number of slights and jokes. But not anymore.

“It is okay to admit it — it’s cool to be from New Jersey again.

“It’s cool because we are once again leading in all the right things.

“In protecting the basic rights and honoring the human dignity of every New Jerseyan.

“In attracting the high-growth industries of tomorrow.

“In creating opportunity for every individual, in every community, for a world-class education and a good paying, family supporting job.”

Creating a ‘Next New Jersey’

“We know our shared future is bright,” he said. “It is bright because we are building the Next New Jersey. Everything we do is guided by our belief that tomorrow can be better than today for the state we all love.

“Focusing on hope is not simply an act of optimism. It is an unshakable belief in this state and everyone who calls New Jersey home.

“Some governors boast that their state is where ‘woke’ goes to die. I’m not sure I know what that’s supposed to mean. But I can tell you very confidently — New Jersey is where opportunity lives, where education is valued, where justice is embraced, where compassion is the norm and where the American Dream is alive and well.”