January 11, 2023
In his State of the State Address on January 10th, Gov. Murphy emphasized addressing racial inequities through maternal health care, recognizing the inherent value of every member of "our proud LGBTQIA community" and bringing the American Dream and justice to all through affordability, health care, housing, education and jobs. All of these goals align with NJAMHAA's Diverse Faces campaign, which advocates for New Jersey residents of all ages and backgrounds to have access to services and supports to progress in their recovery from substance use disorders and mental illnesses and to achieve health, education, employment and other life goals.
Governor Phil Murphy began his address identifying several ways in which New Jersey is leading the nation. One of these ways is "prioritizing youth mental health through comprehensive means that don't just connect kids with resources, but empower parents and educators to identify negative signs and provide positive support."
The Administration's focus on mental health is also evidenced by "the continued expansion of our transformative ARRIVE Together program, which pairs law enforcement officers with mental health screeners to respond to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis," as Gov. Murphy stated. He highlighted the opioid epidemic as "one of our most tragic challenges" and it is one that is showing some improvement. "The preliminary numbers for 2022 show 231 fewer drug-related deaths than in 2021 - giving us our lowest statewide total since 2017," Gov. Murphy shared, along with the state's strategy of increasing access to the overdose antidote. "Late last month, the Department of Human Services received approval to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to allow any pharmacy to provide anonymous and free access to Naloxone to any individual, at any time," he said.
"We hope Gov. Murphy's address portends well for more funds for mental health, substance use treatment, crisis response and serving children with mental health challenges in schools when he unveils his budget next month," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA.
Gov. Murphy signaled a few initiatives that aim to make New Jersey more affordable for residents:
- He announced an extended deadline to apply for property tax relief through the Affordable New Jersey Communities for Homeowners and Renters (ANCHOR) program. Individuals now have until February 28th to apply for this relief at https://nj.gov/treasury/taxation/anchor/. According to Gov. Murphy, "For more than a million homeowners, ANCHOR's direct relief will effectively undo years of property tax increases - even up to a decade's worth. And for nearly one million renters, ANCHOR's tenant relief will cushion rent hikes."
- Child tax credits were enacted in addition to "more than a dozen other tax cuts for our middle-class and working families, seniors, and veterans," Gov. Murphy stated.
- There was a sales-tax holiday on school supplies this past September.
- Effective January 1, 2023, the minimum hourly wage is $14.13 an hour, which is an increase of $1.13. According to Gov. Murphy, more than 400,000 New Jersey residents will benefit from this increase.
Gov. Murphy also commented on two major public health issues. He acknowledged that COVID continues to be a concern, although the number of hospitalized patients has declined significantly, and he urged residents to get COVID boosters, as well as flu shots.
Regarding women's health, Gov. Murphy said New Jersey is "leading in maintaining and preserving every woman's right to personal reproductive freedom and trusting them with the ability to make the most intimate of healthcare decisions for themselves."
NJAMHAA looks forward to working with the Administration and legislators to increase access for all of New Jersey's diverse population in need of services that address mental health and substance use disorders, as well as social determinants of health.
Click here to read the full transcript of Gov. Murphy's speech.