Murphy signs executive order creating Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

At the International Union of Operating Engineers Training Center Local 825, Gov. Phil Murphy painted New Jersey’s economy as stuck in the mud.

“For eight years, we have slogged behind every competitor state in multiple categories,” said Murphy.

His list went on — challenging his new role to lead the state to a stronger and fairer economy.

“It’s time for New Jersey to get back to leading by doing,” said the governor.

With the stroke of a pen, the governor signed another executive order, his 12th in six weeks. This time, creating the Jobs and Economic Opportunities Council within the Governor’s Office made up of the lieutenant governor and several cabinet members.

“Specifically, I’m directing the council to analyze state and national economic trends and data to design the policies needed to attract, expand and retain good jobs. I am asking them to identify potential funding sources,” said Murphy.

The governor said the council’s scope will be broad and do what he’s already ordered his cabinet to begin doing – streamline state government by considering how best to use technology.

“Turning New Jersey around must begin with fixing our economy, making us a place that creates jobs and new opportunities in innovation and infrastructure” continued Murphy.

The governor has visited the training center before, this time touting its apprenticeship program that prepares men and women for infrastructure jobs.

“I am able to make a livable wage, be a father and stay involved in my community. I couldn’t ask for any thing more,” said operating engineer apprentice, Brad Miller.

The governor says his economic council is modeled after the National Economic Council, the one that advises the president. One renowned Rutgers labor professor, Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University stood with the governor Tuesday.

Van Horn says the council is absolutely necessary, “I’ve been involved in New Jersey government, and government around the United States for a long time. I think it’s very important to create a coordinating unit in the Governor’s Office so that you can get things done.”

Murphy just returned from a governors’ meeting with the president and chimed in on the notion of arming school teachers.

“Arming teachers and putting more guns in schools is not the right answer, and that’s one we flat out don’t agree with,” said Murphy.

Murphy addressed appointing and then firing Paula White as assistant commissioner for the state Department of Education.

“I make decisions on who works for us on our team and nobody else,” he said.

White’s education advocacy has clashed with the state’s biggest teachers’ union, the NJEA.

When asked if the union asked him to rescind White’s nomination, Murphy called the notion “ridiculous.”

So why did the governor fire the educator described as having a record of achievement who founded a charter school and supports tenure reform?

“[She is] not suited for the job and not consistent with my views of where we want to take education in this state,” Murphy said. “I’m just going to stick with what I said because it has the added virtue of being the truth.”

For some editorial writers, the White firing is a teaching moment about who holds the power in Trenton.