Weinberg questions governor on megamall bus funding

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Gov. Phil Murphy Thursday warned residents that the looming heat wave posed a real danger and urged them to take precautions as the mercury climbs high into the 90s over the next few days.

“Certainly we want everyone to enjoy their weekends, but more importantly we want everyone to be safe. It’s going to be just as hot at the shore, by the way, as it will be in the mountains. If you or someone else needs access to a cooling center, please immediately call 211, or visit nj211.org,” said Murphy.

The governor also responded to questions about NJ Transit from Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who complained the agency’s budget devotes $8 million to provide bus service for the American Dream megamall in the Meadowlands. She asked, “Will this new bus service to American Dream require NJ Transit to pull buses and bus drivers from other bus routes, and if so, where? How long has this $8 million plan been in the works, and what are the details?”

“We are concerned that NJ Transit seems to lurch from crisis to crisis,” Weinberg added.

“We have to be an ‘and both’ state and not an ‘either or’. We clearly have to get the 900,000 commuters to work and school or wherever they’re headed safely, reliably, and home on time, there’s no question that’s job number one,” said Murphy. “This is going to be a massive operation. It’s going to have, when it’s fully leased — and I don’t think it will be on day one, no project like that ever is — it’s going to have 16,000 employees.”

The governor commented after a news conference at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, where he touted a historic jobs number: New Jersey’s unemployment rate fell by three-tenths of a point to just 3.5% in June. That’s below the national 3.7% rate and the lowest monthly rate since state level records began in 1976.

“The jobs numbers today prove the importance of having an actual strategy when it comes to economic growth. We are investing in all the things that make our state great — our people, our location, our values and our infrastructure,” said Murphy.

New Jersey’s Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo touted investment in apprenticeship programs which have increased 34%.

“The days of looking for just a job are over. We want New Jerseyans to have well-paying, family-supporting careers where they can take advantage of advancement opportunities like we’re highlighting today,” said Asaro-Angelo.

Wages are also climbing. New Jersey’s minimum wage rose to $10 an hour this month. It’s going to keep climbing a buck a year, topping at $15 an hour by 2024.