Addressing an empty theatre Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy laid out his plan for the next year in his third State of the State address.
The speech, which is typically given during a joint session of the legislature, was pre-recorded because of social distancing rules and aired on social media.
Murphy reaffirmed his commitment to guiding the state through COVID-19 and continuing vaccine distribution. So far, about 233,000 people have received the vaccine. Murphy said he wants to see 5 million people vaccinated by June.
"We all sense the promise that comes with approved and safe COVID vaccines," he said.
While the pandemic dominated most of the speech, Governor Murphy also talked about priorities for the upcoming year that include: enacting early, in-person voting, easing the burden of working parents by building out an affordable child care support system, and making health care more accessible and affordable. He said highlights of the past year include helping small businesses.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick gave the Republican response. He said his issues with the Murphy administration aren't personal and that he wanted to make that clear in light of the riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, which he condemned.
Bramnick criticized Democrats' spending and said that over the last 20 years New Jersey has raised taxes by over $4 billion.
"This is why it's so important that we start to move away from raising taxes. And let me be specific, the governor and his party have raised taxes a total of 41 times," Bramnick said.