Gov. Phil Murphy touted his record over the last three years, reiterated support for legislation he has endorsed before and made no pitches for new programs in a pre-recorded State of the State on Tuesday that marks the first major speech of his re-election bid.

“When I first asked for the privilege to serve as your governor, I pledged to do what was right not for my next election, but for the next generation,” Murphy said. “And that is how we have governed. We are who we said we’d be. We stand with New Jersey’s hardworking middle-class families and everyone working to get there.”

The speech was recorded Sunday at a mostly empty Trenton War Memorial theater and released via social media channels. The Office of Legislative Services said it marks the first time the State of the State wasn’t delivered before a joint session of the Legislature.

Murphy primarily touted his record dating back to 2018 such as a higher minimum wage, the passage of earned sick leave, the expansion of paid family leave and an increase in taxes on millionaires.

“Over these three years, we have laid a foundation to support a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every family. These were the right things to do before the pandemic, and they turned out to be some of the best decisions to get us through the pandemic.”

Murphy said his priorities for 2021 include the COVID-19 vaccination program and the new economic program he signed into law last week. He said he’ll also work with the incoming Biden administration on funding for the Gateway Program rail tunnels under the Hudson River and touted efforts at NJ Transit, such as the on-time completion of the positive train control safety technology.

“We are leaving for the next generation a rail system wholly different than the one we inherited. We are making historic investments in our roads and bridges. We are reimagining our airports and seaports,” he said. “Put together, we are embarking on the largest infrastructure investment program in the history of our state.

Murphy reiterated calls for the Legislature to pass bills related to ethics reforms, early voting, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug and property crimes and giving renters up to 30 months to repay rent overdue during the pandemic.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said the speech barely touched on major concerns of residents such as affordability and, specifically, property taxes.

“No specifics at all, and if you noticed, he didn’t address any of the problems that the average New Jerseyan actually experiences and why people are so concerned with the future of New Jersey,” said Bramnick.

“It shows that this governor is going to rely on his work during COVID. He’s going to rely on praising something stronger and fairer. But he’s not likely to address the underlying issues that are causing people to leave this state and causing people not to be able to afford to live in this state,” Bramnick said. “And I think he’ll continue to dodge those issues because I don’t think he has a good answer.”

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Bramnick said that under Murphy, Democrats have enacted 42 tax and fee increases amounting to $4.2 billion.

“In the next three to five months, the Democrats will no longer have the opportunity to point at Donald Trump nor point at Chris Christie. They will have to take on the responsibility of governing without any excuses,” Bramnick said. “No excuses from now until November.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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