New Jersey Gov.-elect Murphy faces big hurdles

- New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has some major challenges when he takes office this month. He promised to Increase the minimum wage statewide to $15 an hour, provide free community college, legalize recreational marijuana use, and dedicate more money for pensions, public transportation, and schools.

Dr. Brigid Harrison, a political science and law professor at Montclair State University, said Murphy is in for a rude awakening.

"Many of his programs that he is proposing cost money and the reality is that the state is in dire fiscal straits," she said. "There is a lot of insinuation that Governor Christie is leaving a ticking time bomb."

New Jersey's property taxes are the highest in the country. And when you take into account the state income tax, the sales tax, and the estate tax, residents are the highest taxed in the country.

So, where will the money come from to pay for additional programs? And on top of that, the cost of pensions and health benefits for public workers has skyrocketed.

"It is an incredibly serious problem. It is the largest problem because it demands such an enormous proportion of the state budget," Harrison said. "If [the state] were to uphold what has been promised would likely go bankrupt so there will have to be some concessions and I don't think that will be met as welcoming news."

Murphy, a Democrat, also has to deal with political infighting within his own party.

"The state Legislature still controls the purse strings and the reality is that there is a very divided Democratic party in the state of New Jersey right now," Harrison said. "Governor Murphy is attempting to do anything he can to kind of quell the factionalism. We'll see if that's enough."

Harrison added that Murphy can't look to Washington and a Republican president to come to New Jersey's aid.

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