Governor’s pitches include teen voting, more AI, less medical debt


TRENTON, NJ (AP) – new Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced a series of new measures he wants the newly expanded Democrat-led legislature to adopt, including allowing 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections, reducing Medicare debt , including expanding affordable housing and launching an artificial. Intelligence “Moon.”

Murphy delivered his sixth State of the State address before a joint legislative session in the ornate Assembly chamber, where Democrats won six seats in the November election. Murphy reiterated calls he has made since his re-election in 2021 to further ease property taxes and expand free pre-K, which he says will make the state “stronger and fairer.”

“From day one, the goal has been to grow New Jersey from the bottom up and from the middle out,” Murphy said.

The annual speech begins the legislative year and is followed in a few weeks by the Governor’s budget speech, where he will specify how he wants lawmakers to allocate state income for the year.

The two-term governor focused too much on himself and Efforts by fellow Democrats To help keep a lid on property taxes, which are among the highest in the country, Murphy said it is part of an effort to make the state “the best place anywhere to raise a family.”

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Republicans, who are in the minority in the Legislature, said they would work with the governor to make the state more affordable, but balked at many of his specific proposals. Despite the governor’s focus on power, taxes are still too high, he said.

“Our tax burden is still the highest in the country, and the tax barriers we have placed before businesses are still the highest in the country,” said Republican Sen. Declan O’Scanlon.

Murphy’s latest proposals include a call for 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board elections. A handful of towns and cities across the country, including California, Maryland, and Vermont According to the National Youth Rights Association, there are similar allowances.

“Encouraging our young neighbors to engage with democracy is really encouraging them to become lifelong voters,” he said.

In an emotional high point, Murphy’s voice shook when he said he would name a package of bills to reduce Medicare debt after Louisa Carman, a 25-year-old member of his staff who died on New Year’s Day. One was killed in a car accident.

“In the wealthiest country in the world, no one should have to worry about being able to afford vital health care services or a life-saving medical procedure,” he said.

The state has long struggled to enforce affordable housing requirements, which are currently managed through the courts. He called on legislators to pass a bill to make it easier to build such housing, though it’s unclear what the measure would look like.

He also called upon the “top minds” of the state to advance artificial intelligence technology and created a welcoming platform of sorts for companies working on AI.

“Our state government will be a catalyst in bringing together innovators and leaders to invest in research and development,” he said.

A left-leaning former financial executive, Murphy came to office opposite his predecessor, Republican Chris Christie, who is making his second run for the GOP nomination for president.

Murphy has taken the state in a different direction: While Christie clashed with labor leaders, Murphy on Tuesday praised the state’s expanding unionized workforce. Christie vetoed funding for abortion services, which Murphy has restored — and the list goes on.

While Murphy fulfilled many campaign promises, largely thanks to the Democrats controlling the legislature 2023 rewrite resolution The state’s Prohibition-era liquor licensing system remains incomplete.

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