One hundred days down, 1,365 days to go.

In a speech Wednesday at Rutgers University marking his hundredth day in office, Gov. Phil Murphy ticked through his accomplishments so far and promoted the income, sales and corporate tax hikes he says are needed to boost spending on programs.

His pitch in support of the roughly $1.6 billion in proposed tax increases was perhaps his most direct yet, calling them “the right thing to do.”

“These are simply not ends unto themselves, but rather these are the tools – the right tools – with which we can build a stronger and more resilient state,” Murphy said.

Murphy said residents support his proposed spending plans and understand that new revenues are needed for them. He said the state can’t boost spending as he plans on school aid, preschool program, community college and NJ Transit without higher taxes.

“It is this simple: We cannot rise unless we invest in our state,” Murphy said.

“We are dedicated to a simple, obvious but important truth: Economic progress cannot be made without social progress and social progress cannot be achieved without economic progress,” said Murphy.

Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer, said that so far, Murphy has been able to achieve campaign goals that were the low-hanging fruit, already supported by Democratic lawmakers. They’ve been more wary about the tax hikes.

“Obviously the tough stuff is now what comes – the budget, where we’re still working I think in a productive manner. And there’s a lot of other things that we have to look to do, such as minimum wage, that can help our economy,” Benson said.

In his speech, Murphy said he’s fixing problems – from NJ Transit to school funding to the environment to state finances. And he said that through new laws on equal pay for women and automatic voter registration, New Jersey is “finally leading the nation in the right things.”

Critics say the tax hikes he proposes in this budget create new problems and lead in the wrong direction.

“I want to see the results, what these policies are going to bring and what we have to do to make New Jersey affordable again. That’s really the key here,” said Assemblyman Edward Thomson, R-Monmouth. “There’s a lot of promises made, and as an actuary I can tell you they don’t add up.”

Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-Warren, said Murphy is meeting campaign promises to raise taxes and spend more money but that it’s a recipe for chasing residents out of the state.

“We’re going to be in big trouble. So I just hope that he would take a look and slow things down a little bit and keep the taxpayers in mind,” DiMaio said.

In his speech, Murphy said he was wearing track shoes – actually, his trademark Allbirds – for a reason.

“If there are some who wish to criticize us for moving too fast, well, please join me and put on your own track shoes,” Murphy said. “We have so much to do that we need to move even faster, and I invite you to join me to be part of that solution.”


New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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