What New Jersey’s Leaders Must Do in 2022

New Jerseyans are facing serious challenges. Here’s what needs to be done.

NJ Governor Phil Murphy
Governor Phil Murphy, seen here celebrating on election night, won a second term by a narrower margin than expected. Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

The political world was turned upside down on November 2. In a state with over 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans, Governor Phil Murphy (D) won a second term by a much narrower margin than anyone had expected. The powerful State Senate president Steve Sweeney lost to a Trump-loving commercial truck driver who spent less than $200 on his campaign. Huh?

New Jersey is a blue state, but it’s also blue collar. It is significantly suburban, with working- and middle-class people who are fed up. Covid-19 continues to impact us. With so much uncertainty, these are the most pressing issues our Statehouse leaders should focus on in 2022.

Buckle up. New Jersey is headed for a heck of a ride in the new year.

Pandemic Recovery

We need to get as many school-age children vaccinated as possible. I know a vaccine mandate for kids would never fly politically in our state, but it is essential that every legislator and political leader stand firmly behind vaccines. The more children are vaccinated, the more likely they will remain physically in schools.

Helping Businesses Get Back On Their Feet

More than a third of New Jersey businesses have closed since March 2020. Closed businesses mean lost revenue, which hurts communities and means more people on unemployment. Directly subsidizing and providing low-interest loans to businesses of all sizes is more important than ever.

Responding To Taxpayer Frustrations

When Governor Murphy said during the campaign, “If you’re a one-issue voter and tax is your issue…we in New Jersey are probably not your state,” it cut to the core of why many taxpayers feel abandoned. The Legislature needs to hold the line on taxes while ensuring that aid to public schools is maintained, so that local and county governments don’t increase property taxes.

Focusing on Infrastructure

It looks like the Gateway Tunnel may become a reality, but much more needs to be done to repair roads and bridges. There is nothing sexy about infrastructure until, God forbid, something catastrophic happens. I hope our leaders don’t wait until it’s too late, but take the initiative in 2022.

Childcare & Economic Recovery

Improving access, affordability and quality of childcare is critical. Childcare is directly connected to our economic recovery. If parents don’t have adequate and affordable childcare, how can we expect them to participate in the workforce? Governor Murphy has done a solid job in supporting childcare, and I hope that legislators looking to show fiscal prudence don’t wrongly look at the issue as part of some far-leaning liberal progressive policy, but rather a core economic issue.

Making Climate Change More Relevant

It’s real. Don’t believe it? Think Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Ida. We can improve our infrastructure while still maintaining climate-change policies that reflect how far behind New Jersey and the nation are. Let’s stop debating climate change and acknowledge we are playing catch-up. Our leaders must act now.

Steve Adubato, PhD, is the author of five books including his latest, Lessons in Leadership. He is also an Emmy® Award-winning anchor on Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJ PBS. Check out steveadubato.org. Steve has appeared on CNN, FOX5 in NY and NBC’s Today show and his “Lessons in Leadership” video podcast with co-host Mary Gamba airs Sundays at 10 am on News 12+. Steve also provides executive leadership coaching and seminars for a variety of corporations and organizations both regionally and nationally. For more information, visit stand-deliver.com.

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