Volume 12 Issue 16 - Thursday, September 30, 2021

Murphy Retains Lead over Ciattarelli, Gubernatorial Debate Recap and Murphy Announces Return and Earn Incentive Program

Murphy Retains Lead over Ciattarelli: A poll released earlier this week shows a 9-point race between Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.

The Stockton University poll of 552 likely voters shows Murphy leading 50% to 41% when including voters that lean towards one candidate or the other. Excluding those, Murphy’s leads by 8 points, 47% to 39%.

Murphy’s Covid-19 performance remains a strong issue for him. A 25% plurality say the pandemic is their top issue, and voters believe Murphy would better manage the public health crisis over Ciattarelli, 50% to 34%.

Voters also support mask mandates in schools, 58% to 37%, which Murphy imposed and Ciattarelli opposed.

Forty-six percent of voters say Ciattarelli would be better at handling tax policy compared to 38 percent for Murphy. The two are virtually tied on who would better manage the economy, with 43% for Ciattarelli and 42% for Murphy. Voters are also split on whether the state is heading in the right or wrong direction, at 44% and 45%, respectively.

Gubernatorial Debate Recap: On Tuesday, New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli debated in the first of two meetings in this year’s campaign for governor.

Murphy, a first-term Democrat, and Ciattarelli, a former GOP Assembly member, met at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark in a debate interrupted continuously by cheers and boos from the audience despite pleas from moderators.

Murphy is trying to become the first Democrat in 44 years to win reelection and to stop a trend dating back to 1985 that has seen the party of the president lose the New Jersey governorship.

Murphy’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic took center stage early on, specifically his management of the pandemic in nursing homes, which account for roughly a third of the state’s 27,000 deaths. Ciattarelli criticized Murphy’s order in early 2020 requiring nursing home residents to return from hospitals regardless of their COVID-19 status.

Murphy defended the order, as he has for months, saying the facilities were the residents homes and management was required to keep returning residents separate from other residents.

Murphy pivoted to masks and vaccine mandates, which his opponent has been skeptical of. “Saying that it’s your call and government can’t mandate a vaccine or no masking is akin to drunk driving,” Murphy said. “It impacts the person whose driving drunk and all of us.”

The governor also attacked Ciattarelli for saying that whether people get the vaccine is up to them. Murphy has mandated the vaccine or regular testing in a number of industries in the state, including health care, schools and day care centers.

Ciattarelli said he has been vaccinated and thinks people should get vaccinated, but he draws a distinction at what government should be requiring. “Do I believe government has a right to tell people that they have to take a medicine?” He said. “No.”

On whether young children should wear masks in schools, Ciattarelli said it should be up to parents. Murphy has signed an executive order requiring masking in day cares, as well as in the state’s schools.

On taxes: Ciattarelli repeated a campaign-long criticism of Murphy that seized on a clip of him saying that “if taxes are your issue, then we’re probably not your state,” saying the comment was disqualifying in a state like New Jersey leads the nation in property tax rates.

Murphy referenced his Administration’s hike in taxes on those making more than a $1 million a year, an increase in school aid and the state fully funding public workers’ pensions. He also pledged that if reelected he would not raise taxes again.

Murphy Announces Return and Earn Incentive Program: This week, Governor Murphy announced that the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) will begin implementation of the Return and Earn program. This new initiative will provide a $500 incentive for unemployed workers reentering the workforce and receiving job training from businesses with 100 or fewer employees. 

Facilitated by NJDOL's Business Support Unit, Return and Earn will take advantage of New Jersey’s existing On-the-Job Training infrastructure to provide wage reimbursement support to New Jersey employers that hire eligible applicants with identifiable skills gaps. Employers will then be reimbursed for 50% of the wages paid for regular hours worked during the contracted employer-provided training period.

 Employers can receive the wage subsidy for up to 6 months, up to the cap of $10,000 per Return and Earn employee and are limited to a total Return and Earn subsidy across all employees of $40,000.  

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