Minimum wage, sick leave, ethics top Murphy’s agenda
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy spent his first full day on the job Wednesday rallying for a $15 minimum wage and statewide paid sick leave, holding a Cabinet meeting and signing his second executive order.
Murphy, a wealthy former Wall Street executive who has never held elected office before, took over from Republican Chris Christie on Tuesday, pledging to move state government in a progressive direction and promising to thwart President Donald Trump.
Day 1 on the job comes as Murphy returns state government to Democratic control for the first time since former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, left office in 2010 and making New Jersey one of only eight states where the party controls the governorship and the Legislature.
Despite having political control, Murphy seemed to tamp down expectations on hiking the $8.60 minimum wage to $15 and implementing statewide paid sick leave, saying he didn’t have a timeline in mind.
“You can’t get there overnight,” said Murphy during a roughly 45-minute round-table with workers at a Newark church.
Murphy also reiterated his stance that the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour over time, but stopped short of explicitly backing legislation that Christie vetoed in 2016. Under the bill Christie vetoed, the wage would have risen to $10.10 an hour and reached $15 after five years.
He also held his first Cabinet meeting in Trenton on Wednesday. Most of the nearly two dozen officials are serving in an acting capacity and have not yet been confirmed by the state Senate. The meeting was not open to the public.
Murphy, 60, signed his second executive order, a 21-page code of conduct that outlines when officials in his administration would have to file financial disclosure forms. The order requires state government officials to disclose assets in ranges from $1,000 up to more than $500,000 and mirrors federal guidelines, Murphy said. He also said the order would require reporting gifts for those people he met before he entered politics, going back to January 2015.
New Jersey’s current minimum wage is $8.60 in January. The current wage was set under a constitutional amendment in 2013 that provided for raising the rate from $7.25 to $8.25, and thereafter according to inflation.
If New Jersey succeeds in hiking the minimum wage, it would join California, which is set to reach a $15 an hour by 2022. New York’s rate went from $9.70 to $10.40 last year. New York City is set to reach $15 by the end of the year.
Eight states and the District of Columbia require employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
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