Governor Florio’s Third State of the State Message
January 12, 1993
Ladies and Gentlemen: Last month New Jersey said goodbye to one of our best-loved citizens – a hero to many New Jerseyans – our former Governor and Chief Justice, Richard Hughes. Each of us, I’m sure, has our own memories of Governor Hughes. I know I do.
When this Legislature changed hands from one party to another a year ago, I was worried. No offense, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, but I was afraid that we might spend the next two years fighting each other instead of fighting the recession and fighting for a better New Jersey.
But Governor Hughes called me at home the morning after the election. And he assured me that it didn’t have to be that way. He had also seen our party lose control of the Legislature halfway through his first term – but some of the accomplishments he was most proud of had come after that realignment.
He told me: “Accommodate wherever you can. But never compromise on matters of principle.” Governor Hughes understood that we have a choice to make. As Democrats and Republicans, we can choose to wear ideological straitjackets that bind us to the failures of the past – or we can seek the freedom of new solutions that put us on the path to progress.
Well, believe me, when a two-term Governor offers advice, I listen.
Since we last met in these chambers, our greatest achievement has been to recognize that our choice isn’t between moving left or right. It’s between moving backward or forward. And we have moved forward.
I want to thank you, Senate President DiFrancesco, Speaker Haytaian, Senator Lynch and Assemblyman Doria and every member of this Legislature for what we’ve accomplished this year: In health care. School funding. Transportation. And shore protection.
But we’re still a work in progress. Thomas Jefferson said it well when he said: “Each generation has a moral obligation to pass on to the next opportunities and possibilities for life at least as great as those it received form its own parents.”
Last year the Senate President and the Speaker joined me in an historic first. We created a “jobs czar” – a Chief of Economic Recovery – to take full advantage of our job-creating capabilities and to expand on the exciting engines of opportunity already in place: places like the Meadowlands Sports Complex, Camden waterfront and our world-class aquarium; Liberty State Park and its new Science Center.
This year I’m putting Bob Hughey in charge of a $1 billion capital improvement plan to build an even stronger, better New Jersey and create 30,000 new jobs. The capital improvement plan will provide municipalities with low-interest loans to build new roads and sewers, libraries, firehouses and other essential facilities.
Last year New Jersey was recognized as the number one state in the nation in solving environmental problems, a source of great pride to all of us. This year let’s put that leadership and know-how to work to do more than clean up the environment. Let’s use it to create jobs for our people – good, high-paying jobs from the laboratory to the factory to the field.
Environmental goods and services is big business. By the year 2000, it is estimated that cleaning up mistakes of the past and preventing pollution in the future will be at least a $300 billion a year industry – more than the aerospace, more than chemicals – with tens of thousands of jobs. That market will go to the people who produce the best products and services for the best price and get them to the market first.
I want New Jersey to capture that job-rich new market. So today I’m proposing a comprehensive seven-point plan to make sure New Jersey wins that jobs race.
First: We’ll help New Jersey’s environmental entrepreneurs develop and market their ideas by dedicating a portion of our Economic Recovery Fund specifically to environmental technology.
Second: We’ll target part of our job training grants to make sure our workforce in this area is the best-skilled in the nation.
Third: We’ll offer tax incentives to companies that create new jobs and job training by investing in environmental technology.
Fourth: To transfer our environmental research and development into jobs for New Jersey, I’m asking you to join me in creating the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology – NJ CAT. Just as Japan and Western Europe have demonstrated the benefits of linking academic and industrial bases, we need to maximize New Jersey’s resources and target them to the marketplace. NJ CAT will do that by expanding on already successful research programs at places like NJIT, Rutgers and the Stevens Institute.
Fifth: Through our Economic Development Authority, we’ll create a new loan export program. We’ll call it “New Jersey Worldwide.” It will help New Jersey companies sell their products throughout the world.
Sixth: I’m directing Commissioner McConnell to help business and the commercial real estate industry by matching high-growth businesses in environmental and other high-tech fields with available low-cost office space.
And seventh: Thomas Edison called his laboratory in Menlo Park his “invention factory.” To make our colleges and universities the invention factories of tomorrow, we’ll create “incubators” for environmental technology and other job-rich industries. We’ll set aside $10 million from our Economic Recovery Fund to help colleges and universities build and renovate their R&D facilities.
Today, when people around the world think of pharmaceuticals, when they think of telecommunications, when they think of photonics, they think of New Jersey. Tomorrow, when people in Eastern Europe want to make the polluted Danube River blue again, when people in Ukraine want to clean up Chernobyl, they will need environmental technology – and they will look to New Jersey.
Last year we put politics aside and put children first on the tough question of school finance. This year let’s continue to move forward, to make sure our investments results in good schools where children can get a genuine education, not just a series of empty promotions to get through an outdated system.
We need not just new money, but a new system.
Under Dr. Fitzgerald, our new commissioner, we are going to insist on dollars and accountability – because we are kidding ourselves if we think that one is of any value without the other.
Our new school monitoring requirements set higher standards for everyone – students, teachers and school administrators. But we can’t expect kids to learn if they’re hungry or sick. So I urge you to join me in strengthening GoodStarts, our pre-school program for kids in some of our poorest communities. We can provide more services for more children in more school districts. And we should.
To build a higher education system that prepares our children for the new industries of the 21st century, I’m proposing a “Jobs of the Future” bond issue for this November’s ballot. This bond issue will help us work with New Jersey businesses and colleges to upgrade the high-tech labs on our campuses and create classrooms that mirror the workplaces of the future so that we can attract high-skill jobs to our state.
But college isn’t the only way to prepare young people for the future. And for some, its’ not even the best way. Half of New Jersey’s young people don’t go to college. For too long, they’ve been forgotten. Let’s resolve to give back to our skilled working people their shot at the American Dream.
We can do that by creating the New Jersey Youth Apprenticeship Program. Engineers and scientists are important partners in the high-paying economy we’re building. But just as important are highly skilled technicians and factory workers – people who can make the products and deliver the services we invent.
Beginning in the 10th grade, students will be able to take a rigorous three-year program combining classroom studies and real-life work experience. I’m directing the State Employment and Training Commission to work with legislators, the Education department and Labor department, and with the business community, to get this program up and running. Not sometime in the future, but this year.
All over New Jersey, young people are discovering a new sense of community and compassion through voluntary community service projects – from rehabilitating homes to organizing recycling drives, tutoring, planting gardens and creating community parks.
Through a new initiative called “New Jersey First” we’ll combine federal dollars and New Jersey idealism to create a network of opportunities for more young people to help themselves and their communities. We’ll also establish a leadership institute to prepare our top college students to lead New Jersey tomorrow by volunteering to build New Jersey today.
Education…health care…jobs: These are some of the ways we’ve tried to heed Governor Hughes’ advice to accommodate wherever possible. Let me say just a few words about his admonition not to compromise on matters of principle. Though we may disagree, I hope you will respect my firm and uncompromising adherence to certain beliefs:
I believe the women of New Jersey – not big government – should have the power to make the most personal and private decision a woman can make. Nothing must interfere with women’s right to choose.
I believe it’s dead wrong to make it easier for criminals to use weapons of war against the citizens of New Jersey. I read a story the other day about New Jerseyans who were risking their own lives to take assault weapons away from crazed thugs who are using them to terrorize neighborhoods – in Somalia.
If we care about law and order we need to continue our ban against assault weapons – in New Jersey!
But the most important principle I believe in – the first principle – is our shared belief that government ought to serve the people. Without fundamental change, we’re all stuck with a system that can’t respond to the real needs of real people.
Over the last three years, we’ve made some progress – combining agencies and consolidating services. We’ve saved taxpayers $1.6 billion by following the recommendations of the Governor’s Management Review Commission. But there’s more to do.
To give one example, we can start by returning some common sense to ECRA, our Environmental Clean-Up and Recovery Act. ECRA is in some ways a national model for holding polluters accountable.
Unfortunately, in other ways, it’s also a symbol for red tape. Several months ago I proposed reforms that would enable us to revitalize abandoned industrial and urban sites and move them back into the economic mainstream – and still in no way compromise our commitment to clean air, clean land and clean water. I want to work with you to pass that law as soon as possible.
If you want people to trust us, we need to listen to them. So once again, I’m calling on this Legislature to give our citizens the right to make their voices heard through Initiative and Referendum.
Finally, people are disillusioned by the growing perception that government is for sale to the highest bidder. A quarter-century ago Governor Hughes set us on the road to accountability when he established the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards. Let’s finish that journey. Let’s give government back to its rightful owners. The people.
I commend the Senate President and Assembly Speaker for moving forward with the campaign finance reform proposals in their respective houses. I hope their bills are a first step toward real change. But I have to say what many in this chamber, and many outside here, already know: They are not the strong medicine we need. You’ve said so yourself, and I agree. Let’s work together to do it right.
I’m proud of the fact that the first Executive Order I signed as Governor was to require senior members of my administration to disclose what they own and their sources of income. This morning, before I came here, I signed two more Executive Orders.
The first prohibits state government from leasing or purchasing property in which members of the Legislature or their families have a financial stake.
The second requires state agencies and independent authorities to put their contracts through a competitive bidding process – whether they-re buying pencils or cars. These orders are based on two fundamental assumptions: That government officials aren’t entitled to any special privileges. And that taxpayers deserve the best deal for their money. But there’s more for us to do.
Eight months ago I proposed to this Legislature comprehensive campaign finance reforms. The reforms set reasonable limits on campaign contributions. And they close loopholes in our reporting laws so people know who’s giving money to whom. I also proposed, with Senator Adler’s support, that we establish higher ethical standards for all of us in government.
We know these reforms can work. One reason is because they’re based on the recommendations of the bipartisan, independent “Rosenthal Commission,” which included legislative leadership. I’m asking you today to make real reform your first priority. I want to work with you all to craft a genuine reform bill, based on the Rosenthal recommendations.
That bill must apply to this fall’s elections – because people don’t want to go through another election under a system that increasingly appears against them. I see no reason we can’t pass a good law within the next month. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get it done.
Thank you very much.