POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Murphy wraps up busy second day as governor

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

Day two in office and Gov. Phil Murphy held his first Cabinet meeting. Chief of Staff Pete Cammarano and Chief Counsel Matt Platkin flanked him at the table.

“Sheila and Pete and Matt and I, and the whole team, felt it important to hit the ground running, so this is a meeting we were debating only whether to have yesterday or today,” said Murphy.

Murphy thanked the Senate for confirming state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal Tuesday and praised the diversity of the Cabinet.

“[He has] a deep, deep mix between New Jersey experience and relevant experience outside of New Jersey, and the cocktail we think we need right now given the challenges in the world we face,” said Murphy.

Murphy also signed his second executive order as governor.

Tuesday, it was pay equity. Wednesday, it was a governor’s Code of Conduct saying that any gift given to the governor or his family from someone they have met in the past three years must be fully and publicly disclosed.

“If we were friends with you before then, long before we declared, that’s what we’re going to refer to as a pre-existing relationship. Anybody we’ve met since then is going to be subject to complete disclosure above the threshold of whatever the gift levels are,” said Murphy.

The meeting took place in what was once the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Now it’s office space that looms over West State Street and the State House.

A few hours later, at a church in the Ironbound section of Newark, Murphy held a roundtable on the minimum wage and earned sick leave.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who was at Murphy’s swearing-in yesterday, said it was exciting to see a new governor as progressive as Murphy.

“Governor Murphy in the city of Newark with working families, with 32BJ, in this church talking about economic equality means that New Jersey is in a new state, in a new period. It absolutely means that in a start off is a tenure like, I mean, this is beautiful for all of us,” said Baraka.

The governor reiterated his long-held position that the minimum wage in New Jersey, currently $8.60 an hour, must be increased to $15 dollars.

“Minimum wage in this state is not remotely where it needs to be. We have to get it to where it needs to be as fast as possible. We can’t do it overnight, but we can do it in a measured mythological transparent way and we have to,” said Murphy.

As they went around the table, low wage workers told their tales.

“I get paid bi-weekly and that Friday that I get paid, by Sunday more than half of it is gone,” said Faheem Raoof, Jr, a library worker.

“And no, not $15 will make me go around the world and travel, but it would give me a sense of comfort,” said nurse’s assistant Devika Smith.

Murphy took a few questions here, but when they strayed off-topic, Baraka asked the press to respect the crowd and stay on topic.

A reporter asked Murphy if, unlike former Gov. Jon Corzine, he would accept his full salary as governor. After a bit of awkward back and forth, he said ‘yes.’