PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKI
Sussex County Democratic Committee delegates wait for the convention to begin.
By vera Olinski
FRANKLIN — Around 150 people greeted Gov. Phil Murphy, March 30, at the Sussex County Democratic Committee Convention, at the Irish Cottage Inn of Franklin. Convention Chairwoman Michele Van Allen presided over the event; and Committee Chair Leslie Huhn introduced Murphy. Murphy spoke about politics, his administration’s philosophy, and the “top ten list for the skeptics.” He said he believes in a stronger, fairer, New Jersey, which works for everybody. Furthermore, he said he is a “pro-growth progressive,” who wants and knows how to grow the economy, along with social progress. Murphy reviewed the differing needs of the state’s three demographic blocks, 18-22, around 30–early 60s, over 60, and how New Jersey can meet those needs. He spoke of: affordability, jobs, public education, and transportation. To meet needs, he said, they put more than $200 million into the budget, on top of $350 million, toward Pre-K–12 school funding and created a small business unit in the economic authority because 60 percent of New Jersey employment is small business. They are on the path to free community college, he said, tuition assisted grants, educational opportunity funds, and deepening the relationship between higher education and the real economy. “We will fix New Jersey Transit if it kills me,” he said, and right now, six classes of engineers are running. He explained the importance of moving people and things around the geographically fourth smallest state with the 11th largest population of over nine million people. If they get adult use of marijuana for social justice, he mentioned, some from the 18-22 year-old group might look at New Jersey, but he has mixed emotions due to four kids of his own. For people over 60, he said, his budget proposes $300 million for the homestead rebate, giving property relief, when on average 53 percent of the tax bill goes to public education. Murphy said, property taxes increased 0.8 percent, the lowest, on average, in the history of the state, but he wants them to go down; the state budget had a real savings of $1.1 billion, year over year, with $800 million in savings coming from the public sector employee health care; and the New Jersey reinsurance program premiums went down on average 9.3 percent between 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, he said, they ended fund diversions from the affordable housing trust fund, the Turnpike Authority to NJ Transit, and cut the clean energy diversion in half. They propose to increase gun fees by $100, he said, which have not been raised since 1966. He added, he has no issue with the second amendment. Conceptually, he said, the fee raise will pay for a second state trooper class this fiscal year. They will attract venture capital back into New Jersey, Murphy said, and provide a film and TV tax credit. He also went to Los Angeles to encourage big studios to make movies and TV shows in the Garden State. Furthermore, he announced, Steven Spielberg will film “West Side Story” in Paterson. In order to improve workforce morale, he said, they will raise the minimum wage to $15 and continue earned sick leave, equal pay, and family paid leave. They created a retirement system for companies which do not have their own, he continued, and established a healthcare exchange in New Jersey. He also said he signed into law the funding of Planned Parenthood after it had been unfunded for eight years; and the Democrat Legislature passed the New Jersey individual mandate. “I’m a business man," Murphy said. "I’m a capitalist. Capitalism isn’t perfect. It needs to be managed at the edges.” Earlier, Vernon Councilman Patrick Curreri introduced U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill. Sherrill spoke about funding the Gateway Tunnel Project, passing the Equal Pay Act, and eliminating the state and local tax limit. The delegates also nominated the Legislative District 24 Assembly Candidates Deana Lykins and Dan Smith. Lykins spoke of pride in Sussex County, education funding, understanding why people leave, and appropriate jobs. The New Jersey Democratic Party Executive Director Liz Gilbert spoke of training candidates and operatives all over N.J. in order to raise the next generation. Across Route 23During the event, Sons of Liberty and tea party groups assembled. The president of the groups said they did not like Murphy ignoring federal and immigration laws, pot smokers receiving expungements, gun owners being made criminals, and giving money and licenses “to people who are here illegally.” Savas said abortion is “murder” and encouraged everyone to see the movie “Unplanned.” Maya said she escaped socialism in the former Soviet Union – Stalin killed half her family – and she grew up in Israel. It took almost ten years, she said, for her to become an American citizen, and she wants Murphy to stop supporting illegal aliens.