Volume 12 Issue 13 - Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Governor Ends Public Health Emergency, Murphy’s Approval Rating at 55%, Treasury Revenue Exceed Forecast by $1 Billion & Key Primary Day Election Results

Governor Ends Public Health Emergency: Nearly 15 months after it was first enacted, last Friday Governor Murphy signed an executive order formerly terminating New Jersey’s public health emergency.

That law (A5820/S3866) — which the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a day earlier despite Republican outcry — eliminates most of Murphy’s roughly 140 executive orders related to the pandemic in 30 days. But it extends 14 orders, including the state’s most recent masking rules and moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs, until Jan. 1. The governor could revoke or alter the remaining orders sooner, and masking cannot be more restrictive than federal guidelines.

“Today’s lifting of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is a clear and decisive step on the path toward normalcy,” Murphy said. “The past 15 months have been a challenge, and I thank every New Jerseyan who stayed home, masked up, took precautions to keep this virus in check, and got vaccinated for allowing us to get to this point.”

This comes exactly one year and three months after New Jersey announced its first positive coronavirus test March 4, 2020.

Murphy’s approval rating at 55%: According to a new, Rutgers-Eagleton poll released this week, 55% of New Jerseyans approve of Governor Murphy’s job performance, while 40% disapprove of the job he is doing.

The numbers from this latest poll show a widely expected decline in approval for Murphy from the height of the pandemic when his approval rating reached 77% in a May 2020 Rutgers-Eagleton poll. In November, the poll measured his approval at 62%.

“The ‘rally around the flag’ effect the pandemic has had on Governor Murphy’s ratings in the past year is inevitably coming to an end,” Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said in a statement that accompanied the poll results. “But the Governor still garners the kind of ratings most politicians’ envy, especially in a reelection year and during an increasingly polarizing crisis and recovery process.”

The poll was conducted between May 21 and May 29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Treasury Revenue Exceed Forecast by $1 Billion: News sources are reporting that updated revenue forecasts from the state Treasury are expected to be more than $1 billion above what the Murphy Administration projected in February.

New Jersey’s revenue forecasts, which Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio will deliver in writing to lawmakers today, paint a much more positive picture of the balance sheet than what both the Murphy administration and lawmakers had expected last year, when the pandemic forced almost a complete shutdown of the state’s retail economy. But revenues have dramatically improved, signaling more revenue for the state in June. 

Stronger than expected revenues, buoyed by more than $4 billion New Jersey borrowed last fall, puts the state in an unusually comfortable position ahead of the June 30 budget deadline. On top of that, more than $6.2 billion in American Rescue Plan funds were recently deposited into the state’s accounts. Murphy, who technically has the unilateral authority to spend this money, has indicated he’d like to negotiate these funds with lawmakers in the fall. 

Key 2021 Primary Day Election Results: Yesterday was Primary Election Day in New Jersey and several important statewide and legislative elections were decided including:

  • Jack Ciattarelli, a three-term former member of the Assembly, handily defeated challengers Hirsch Singh and Phil Rizzo and was chosen as New Jersey Republicans’ choice to take on Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in November.
  • Assemblyman Gordon Johnson defeated his longtime running mate, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, to win the Democratic nomination for state Senate in the 37th Legislative District, delivering a victory for New Jersey’s Democratic establishment in the state’s most closely-watched primary.
  • Holmdel Board of Education President Vicki Flynn defeated incumbent GOP Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso in Legislative District 13. Ms. Flynn and runningmate Assemblyman Gerald Scharfenberger are favored in the General election in this very Republican district.
  • Republican Vince Polistina has won the GOP Senate primary race in New Jersey's 2nd Legislative District. Polistina, a former assemblyman, is now headed into a competitive race against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo.
  • State Sen. Joe Cryan defeated Assemblyman Jamel Holley in Legislative District 20’s Democratic primary.
  • Christian Barranco, a former Pompton Lakes councilman defeated incumbent GOP Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce in Morris County’s Legislative District 26. Barranco will run with GOP Assemblyman Jay Webber in November’s General Election in this heavily Republican district.