Volume 9/Issue 6

  • Governor Murphy Names George Helmy as Chief of Staff
  • Senator Addiego Announces Party Switch
  • Computer Science for All Initiative
  • Energy Efficiency Meeting
  • AirTran Announcement

Last week, Trenton saw some major announcements coming from both the Governor’s Office and the Legislature. A new chief of staff for Governor Murphy and a new Democrat for the State Senate dominated much of the political news cycle throughout the week. Amidst these personnel changes were important policy and program announcements from state agencies, including the Department of Education and Board of Public Utilities.

Governor Murphy Names George Helmy as Chief of Staff

George Helmy will serve as Chief of Staff to Governor Phil Murphy beginning February 4th, overseeing all the workings of the Governor’s Office and Executive Branch, including the Governor’s cabinet and agencies. George has served as State Director to U.S. Senator Cory Booker for the past three years, as well as an aide to the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. “I can’t think of a better fit to lead Governor Murphy’s team than George Helmy,” said Senator Cory Booker. “With his vast experience in both the public and private sector, and an unmatched intellect and work ethic, George is uniquely qualified for this incredible opportunity. George is highly respected by folks across the political spectrum, and has spent years building meaningful relationships up and down the state.”

Senator Addiego Announces Party Switch

State Senator Dawn Addiego announced on January 28th that she was leaving the Republican party and would begin caucusing with the Senate Democrats. A resident of Evesham in Burlington County, Senator Addiego’s switch leaves the Senate composed of 26 Democrats and 14 Republicans. “My core values that originally drew me to the Republican Party have not changed, but the party which once echoed the vision of Ronald Reagan no longer exists,” said Senator Addiego. “Oil drilling off our coast and tax policy which unfairly penalizes New Jersey families are just a few examples of a National Republican Party that has lost its way.” Senator Addiego will remain on the Budget and Appropriations Committee and will join the Transportation Committee.

Computer Science for All Initiative

Governor Murphy announced $2 million in Advanced Computer Science grants are being awarded to 29 schools across New Jersey. The grant funding will support a variety of initiatives, including college-credit course offerings, summer bridge programs, Advanced Placement courses, credentialed classes recognized by the tech industry, and professional development for teachers. A list of the recipient schools can be found here.

Energy Efficiency Meeting

The Clean Energy Act directs both the BPU and investor-owned gas and electric utilities to take action on energy efficiency and reduce annual gas and electric use by 0.75 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The BPU is seeking input on the implementation of an energy efficiency and peak demand reduction program through written comments and participation at a public meeting on February 1st.

AirTran Announcement

Governor Murphy is calling on the Port Authority to invest $2 billion in replacing the existing, 23-year-old AirTrain monorail system at Newark Liberty Airport, which services roughly 33,000 people each day. The AirTran connects riders of Amtrak and NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, PATH, and other services to the airport, as well as shuttling customers between all three airport terminals, parking facilities, and rental-car lots. The Port Authority is already spending $3 billion to modernize one of the airport’s busiest terminals and has committed to other significant capital project investments, such as replacement of its bus terminal in Manhattan. The Governor, however, argued that inaction would be costlier as the Port Authority will need to spend approximately $400 million over the next 10 years just to maintain the declining service. “The simple thought is ‘Let’s not waste money keeping it on life support,’” said Governor Murphy. “Let’s invest in a modern and reliable AirTran.”