TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney issued the following statement today in response to Governor Phil Murphy’s State of the State Address to the New Jersey Legislature:
“We have made real progress in the past year. We have moved New Jersey forward on a series of Democratic priorities that we have fought for years to get done. We restored funding for women’s health, expanded paid sick leave, required equal pay for women and put stronger gun safety laws in place.
“We made historic gains on school funding and the expansion of Pre-K with reforms that will improve the quality of education into the future. We not only substantially increased state aid, we made the long-needed reforms to the funding formula that will reshape educational opportunities for students throughout the state. And we gained public approval of the bond act for school safety and vocational education.
“We also addressed the steadily worsening conditions at New Jersey Transit in a plan that makes long-needed reforms. We acted quickly to put in place a comprehensive plan for reforms that the administration has adopted. The conditions for commuters deteriorated for years so the reforms will take some time to be fully realized, but this effort will require diligence and follow through. Its success can’t be taken for granted.
“There are other important goals we have taken on, including an increase to the minimum wage, the legalization of adult-use cannabis and the expansion of medical marijuana. These are significant changes that present demanding legal, social and political challenges. We have to recognize the challenges that must be met and understand the work that is required to get them done.
“As a long-time fighter for an increased minimum wage, I understand its importance and the difficulties in getting it done in ways that aid workers and support economic growth and opportunity. We have made real progress by working with the Governor and Speaker Coughlin. We have a proposal that addresses the Governor’s concerns that I believe will put New Jersey in the forefront of the movement to build a high wage economy. I look forward to the Governor’s support and approval on this shared priority.
“The legalization of marijuana is also a goal that can only be accomplished with work and commitment. We have put in the hard work in the Legislature to develop a plan that addresses the complex demands of this issue. We need the cooperative work of leaders to marshal the support of legislators in order to get this done.
“We have the opportunity and ability to continue to move New Jersey forward, to make real progress on the priorities of the people of New Jersey and to make the reforms needed to improve the quality of life for everyone. We have to work together in a collaborative and productive way. We have to recognize the challenges and appreciate the work that is still needed to get things done. And we have to look for the solutions that will stand the test of time and produce real and lasting progress.”