Gov. Murphy marks 100 days by outlining progressive agenda

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NEW BRUNSWICK -

Gov. Phil Murphy says "big" and "exciting" changes are underway in his state as his new Democratic administration marks 100 days in office.

Murphy delivered a roughly 40-minute speech at Rutgers University in New Brunswick to commemorate the bills and orders he's signed. But he didn't address how he'll persuade a skeptical Democrat-led Legislature to adopt his proposal to raise taxes by about $1.6 billion.

The governor also pledged a more progressive economic and progressive future and defended his tax-hike proposal, saying the revenue is needed to help make the state stronger and fairer.

He also cited the enactment of automatic voter registration, increased Planned Parenthood funding and a ban of offshore oil drilling as signs of promises kept.

But Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says that the governor’s overall progress has been slow.

“Right now I’m giving him a grade of incomplete because we don’t see a lot of movement…and that’s really what he’s going to be judged on,” Murray says.

Many of the governor’s plans for the state are included in his proposed budget. The plans include larger pension payments, free community college and universal pre-K. Murphy says that he hopes that legalizing recreational marijuana, creating a millionaire’s tax and raising the sales tax will help pay for those plans.

New Jersey’s sale tax was decreased two years ago under former Gov. Chris Christie when the gas tax increased.

“Yes, undoing the costly gimmicks of the past and resetting the sales tax at 7 percent is the right thing to do,” the governor said

Murray says that the budget battle will define the rest of Murphy’s term as governor.

“It’s that middle class base in New Jersey who determines if you're a successful governor or not,” Murray says. “So far what they're saying is, he's definitely not worse than Chris Christie at this point, but we still are waiting to see what he's going to do for us.”

The budget will need to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor by June 30.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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