Gov. Phil Murphy would be “the happiest guy” if he was able to start reopening New Jersey on June 1, but he listed multiple steps that have to be taken first, and ultimately, they need to “have broken the back of the” novel coronavirus.
“I’ll be the happiest guy, if not in New Jersey, maybe in America or on the planet if we’re able to start getting back on our feet on June 1,” Murphy said during an interview for ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. “But we’ve got to have broken the back of the virus. We’ve got to have that health care infrastructure in place. And we’ve got a plan that both works for us, for the region and for the country.”
Murphy told the show’s co-hosts, Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein, that he, and other governors in his area, need the federal government as a partner to help with broad scale testing and contract tracing.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s thanks Montclair landlord David Placek for giving his tenants a grace period to pay their rent during a news conference regarding the COVID-19 cases at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J., April 11, 2020.New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s thanks Montclair landlord David Placek for giving his tenants a grace period to pay their rent during a news conference regarding the COVID-19 cases at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J., April 11, 2020.Chris Pedota/AP, FILE
On Monday, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, announced that he, along with the governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Massachusetts, were forming a regional partnership to work together as they move towards reopening their states.
Murphy said on “Powerhouse Politics” that creating this regional council was formalizing what had already been happening informally — these states working in coordination and enacting similar mitigation measures to slow the spread of the virus.
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But Murphy added that everything he’s doing in New Jersey and the governors in this regional pact are doing in their states has to be done “in concert” with the federal government, which he called an “indispensable partner.”
“The federal government plays the role that no matter how big or strong a state or region may be, there’s no escaping it,” he said. “So we’ve got to find common ground with those three rings.”
President Donald Trump speaks, as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx listen, during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the White House, on March 26, 2020.President Donald Trump speaks, as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx listen, during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the White House, on March 26, 2020.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Klein and Karl spoke to Murphy ahead of President Donald Trump hosting another video conference call with the nation’s governors Thursday. Murphy said he thinks he’s been on all of these calls, and while the executives do thank the administration for the help provided so far, they also say they need more.
“Invariably almost every governor — and I can say that this has been the case for me every time out — says, ‘Thank you for X, Y and Z. And by the way, we still could use A, B and C,” Murphy said. “You do see a lot of overlap in terms of what folks either got or what they need.”
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Murphy said on the podcast that New Jersey, and other states across the country, need more financial help from the federal government, especially to avoid taxing residents at a higher rate in order to make up for lost revenue.
“We are at the point of attack. Our expenses are going up and our revenues have fallen off a cliff,” he said. “We need a big slug of direct cash assistance from the feds… Not only do we need the federal government on things like health care infrastructure for testing, we need Congress and the administration to come up with a big number — direct cash into states.”
Murphy estimated that New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey will need about $150 billion from the federal government, and he added, “It needs to come urgently.”
Sen. Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tour the Edison Field Medical Station at the site of the N.J. Convention & Exposition Center in Edison, N.J., April 8, 2020.Sen. Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tour the Edison Field Medical Station at the site of the N.J. Convention & Exposition Center in Edison, N.J., April 8, 2020.Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, FILE
In the interview, the governor acknowledged that even when the state, and country, does start reopening and returning to normal, “normal” may not be what Americans knew before.
“Whether it’s NJ Transit, a bar, a restaurant, a warehouse, a supermarket, a ballgame… whatever we define as normal going forward will be different than the normal we were living three months ago. No question about it,” he told Karl and Klein.
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Murphy again stressed that “(breaking) the back of the darn virus” is paramount, adding, “The economic recovery does not happen unless it’s on the back of a complete, strong healthcare recovery.”