If you listened to Governor Phil Murphy’s first in person State of the State address since the pandemic on Tuesday? You could be forgiven to thinking that the Garden State wasn’t experiencing record inflation, rampant crime, and worst-in-the-nation taxes.
You would’ve correctly picked up on the fact that the Democrat governor, now serving his second term, has national ambitions.
“Some governors boast that their state is where ‘woke goes to die.’ I’m not sure I know what that’s supposed to mean,” Murphy quipped in a clear dig at the reelection slogan of Florida’s Ron DeSantis. “But I can tell you very confidently,” Murphy added. “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.”
DeSantis recently won his second term in Florida’s governor’s mansion by defeating ex-Democrat Governor Charlie Crist by almost 20 points.
Murphy held on against Jack Ciattarelli by a mere 3 points in 2021, a significant drop-off from his 14-point 2017 victory over Kim Guadagno.
Turning to substance, New Jersey Republicans were quick to point out that Murphy’s speech seemed distracted and detached from reality.
“It is rather disheartening and, quite frankly, infuriating to suggest every family can live the ‘American Dream’ when we have failed to address the core issues that concern New Jersey residents – affordability, education funding and public safety,” said Assemblywoman Victoria Flynn (R-13). “For instance, Governor Murphy talked about the State leading in education, but he has failed to provide adequate funding for districts to fulfill this mandate. At a time when schools are dealing with historically low test scores and teacher shortages, many districts are trying to do more with less to combat academic losses among students, growing mental health needs and astronomical surges in health care costs. The idea that the State increased its funding for education in the last 5 years is a false narrative because it fails to account for the lack of capital to support pandemic recovery efforts by schools. It also ignores the reality that the Governor himself cut funds from districts throughout the State.”
“Noticeably missing from the Governor’s State of the State was any reference to a successful plan addressing the learning gaps that exist in our children’s schooling – because the State has failed miserably in this regard,” Flynn, a former school board president, added. “The Governor says that his funding in education provides tax relief, yet all our tax bills, health care and overall high costs of living prove otherwise.”
“For five years, Governor Murphy’s policies have been wreaking havoc on New Jersey families and businesses,” NJGOP Communications Director Alex Wilkes added on behalf of her organization. “Today was just another laundry list of far-left policies designed to set the stage for his presidential run. Murphy’s rosy picture of New Jersey as a progressive paradise is our everyday nightmare. It is more difficult than ever to afford to put food on the table, heat our homes, and run a business. Today’s speech particularly showed the importance of electing Republican majorities in the state legislature this year to place a badly-needed check on Murphy’s governorship and to stop his presidential campaign dead in its tracks.”