Murphy, in second inaugural address, pledges to get ‘American dream working for everyone’



New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivers a vistory speech in Asbury Park, Nov. 3, 2021. 


Gov. Phil Murphy pledged during his second inaugural address Tuesday to make New Jersey a place where the American dream “thrives,” while at the same time promising to continue “waging war” against a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of state residents.

“It is our duty to get the American dream working for everyone,” Murphy said in an address delivered to a small crowd inside the Trenton War Memorial. “To make good on the promise that you can do better than your parents and that your kids will do better than you, and to reward hard work and make sure everyone gets their fair shot and everyone does their fair share.”

Murphy’s victory over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in November was historic, as he became the first Democratic governor since Brendan Byrne in 1977 to be reelected, yet his victory was much closer than expected. It was predicted the Democrat would coast to victory, though in the end, he won by about 3 percentage points.

In the election’s aftermath, which also saw Republicans gain seven seats in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Murphy said his administration would need to do more to address “kitchen table” issues that affect New Jersey residents.

The American dream was a central theme of Murphy’s inaugural address, which he delivered shortly after Chief Justice Stuart Rabner administered the oath of office to him and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver. Because of the pandemic, attendance was limited and everyone was required to wear masks. The governor announced earlier that he would postpone the traditional inaugural ball until later in the year.

At the start of his address, Murphy made reference to a field outside the war memorial where 3,000 flags had been placed, “each representing approximately ten of our fellow New Jerseyans lost since the start of the pandemic.“ More than 30,000 New Jerseyans have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Murphy, who last week reinstated the public health emergency, said his administration will "continue waging war against a pandemic that has uprooted many of our fellow New Jerseyans’ very sense of security."

The 64-year-old former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany spoke about how his parents achieved the American dream: He noted that he grew up working poor and that just one of his parents had a high school diploma. Murphy said he took out loans and juggled part-time jobs to pay for college. Ultimately, he said, and his siblings fared better than their parents.

“Through hard work, more than a little luck, and thanks to God, I did better than my parents. And so did each of my siblings. We have lived the American dream,” he said. “That dream is supposed to be the promise of America. Yet today, the American dream that worked for a family like mine feels out of reach for too many.”

The inaugural speech echoed much of what Murphy included in his State of the State address last week. He spoke of his administration's accomplishments over the past four years and the goals it has set for the next four. Murphy has framed his second term as a continuation of his first, and there are few new policy proposals that he’s pitched thus far.

Murphy, a progressive, said he is going to work to make higher education more affordable, grow the innovation economy and invest in clean energy. He reiterated a pledge he made last week to make prescription drugs more affordable. He also said he will keep investing in the state’s schools to help curb the growth of property taxes, which New Jersey residents often cite as their top concern.

“I’m not going to be satisfied with just slowing property tax growth,” Murphy said. “I want to get us to a place where we can begin to see them go down.”

According to figures from the governor’s office, New Jerseyans paid, on average, a record $9,284 in property taxes last year, NJ Advance Media reported.

The governor also contrasted New Jersey with Washington, declaring that he’s worked with lawmakers “together to achieve so much.” Washington, he said, often panders to the “powerful and the wealthiest,” he said, and “brags about holding back progress.”

New Jersey politicians, he said, “put our heads down and are doing the hard work.”

Murphy also stressed that he was addressing not only those New Jerseyans who voted for him in November, but also those who did not. He said that as governor, he will be dedicated to making New Jersey a place where the “future works for each of us.”

“This is my vow to everyone in New Jersey, whether you voted for me or not,” he said. “Every single day I will fight for you. Every single day I will work to move our state forward.“

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-01-19 03:35:09 -0800