July 18, 2019 | 81° F

Phil Murphy becomes New Jersey's 56th governor

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Phil Murphy plans to focus on big ideas for the Garden State — pushing legislation which lowers taxes for middle-class citizens, legalizing recreational marijuana and increasing worker minimum wages to $15 an hour.

Yesterday, residents of the Garden State watched as former Goldman and Sachs executive Phil Murphy swore in as New Jersey’s 56th governor. 

The inaugural ceremony was held at 11 a.m. in the Patriots Theatre at the War Memorial in Trenton. Murphy was inaugurated and delivered his first words as New Jersey’s newest governor at approximately noon. 

Murphy, who is a member of the Democratic party, succeeded former Gov. Chris Christie (R - N.J.) who served eight years in office and focused on mending New Jersey’s addiction crisis, according to the Wall Street Journal.  

His opening remarks praised Christie’s work and those who served before him — looking to continue their efforts to improve life for New Jersey residents, according to NJ Advance Media.

Unlike Christie, who had conservative views on taxes, opposed marijuana legalization and fought with labor unions, Murphy has promised to raise taxes on millionaires, legalize recreational marijuana and ally himself with unions, according to WNYC. 

Much of Murphy’s speech focused on big ideas that benefit New Jersey’s 9 million residents such as better job opportunities, a stronger economy and opportunities for all people. 

“At this time, with the challenges facing our state and its people, our leadership and vision must once again align. For too long, too much has been done only for the short-term and only from self-interest,” he said. “The long-term common good, along with our confidence and optimism about what we can achieve, has suffered.”

An increase in worker minimum wages to $15 hourly, equal pay for women and stronger gun control laws are a few of the policies Murphy mentioned throughout his speech. He did not mention his work to fix NJ Transit and rarely mentioned New Jersey’s high property taxes, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Alongside Murphy, Sheila Oliver was sworn in as lieutenant governor and will serve as commissioner of the state’s Department of Community Affairs, which oversees local government management and finance, the recovery from superstorm Sandy, housing and community development. 

Oliver is the first Black woman elected to a statewide office, just one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and follows her work as the first Black woman to serve as speaker of New Jersey’s Assembly. 

“I recognize that while these moments are historic, we make history not in the moment but in what we do with it,” she said. 

In his first act as governor, Murphy signed an executive order that prohibits state employers from asking applicants about their salary histories when they apply for state jobs, an act previously vetoed by Christie. 

Murphy neared the end of his speech by saying, “we can do this if we reject the urge to think small, but instead accept the need to do big things that will benefit everyone who calls New Jersey home — today and tomorrow.”

Christian Zapata

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