MAAC Quarterly Meeting
The MAAC held its quarterly meeting on January 24, 2018 and noted the steady growth of the MLTSS program. MLTSS enrollment increased to 53,516 as of December 2017. The MAAC highlight that since August, the program has grown by 1,200 enrollees.
Additionally, the MAAC discussed the Federal Government’s reauthorization of the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The reauthorization will maintain the current 88% Affordable Care Act reimbursement level for the first two years of the program. For the remaining four years, the program will return to the pre-ACA reimbursement level of 66%. With that said, the MAAC alerted stakeholders that the online applications for all 21 Counties are available and beginning to be processed.
The MAAC would further note that enrollment of the NJ FamilyCare program covers approximately 20% of New Jersey’s population, with approximately 1,756,136 citizens enrolled in the program. This represents a 15,536 decrease in enrollment since December 2016.
Governor Phil Murphy Inaugural Address and Priorities
Upon assuming the oath of office on January 16, 2018, Governor Murphy delivered his Inaugural Address, setting up a number of key policy initiatives for his Administration to tackle over the next four years. Governor Murphy campaigned on a promise to make New Jersey’s economy “stronger and fairer”, and to accomplish this, his Administration aims to raise the minimum wage, provide free access to community college, and re-establish the State as a leader in innovation.
Furthermore, Governor Murphy called on the Legislature to pass bills that would restore funding for Planned Parenthood, promote equal pay for women, mandate earned sick leave, and legalize marijuana. Lastly, the Inaugural Address highlighted Governor Murphy’s staunch opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda. Speaking to the crowd, Governor Murphy noted that his Administration would resist every move from President Trump that worsens income inequality, divides families, denies access to college for Dreamers, guts health care for children, seniors, and the working poor, and provides a, “tax windfall to giant corporations and billionaires at the expense of our working and middle-class families.”
Former Governor Chris Christie’s Final State of the State
On January 9, 2018, then Governor Chris Christie delivered his final State of the State address to a joint-session of the Legislature. The speech, which lasted nearly two hours, highlighted a number of policy achievements realized by the Christie Administration over the past eight years.
Former Governor Christie would discuss his Administration’s impact on unemployment, property taxes, their enactment of balanced budgets for eight consecutive years, and their increase in funding to the public pension systems. Furthermore, he would note that over the past eight years, New Jersey has substantially improved the long term prospects of infrastructure funding through the reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund and recovered faster than surrounding areas from Superstorm Sandy.
In his final swan song as Governor, Christie was reflective of his time in office and optimistic about New Jersey’s future, but emphasized that New Jersey must continue to deliver property tax relief to its 9 million residents.
Leadership & Committee Changes
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Union) were both reelected to lead their respective caucuses in the upcoming Legislative Session. Meanwhile, in the Assembly, Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) was elected by his caucus to serve as Assembly Speaker. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) will return to his leadership post this session.
The Assembly saw a number of changes to Committee Chairmanships for the upcoming session. Of note, the Assembly Budget Committee will be led by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex). Furthermore, the Assembly Human Services Committee will now be led by Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Ocean).
A1271 – Establishes procedures to prevent and eradicate bedbug infestation in certain residential properties.
Introduced and referred to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Community on January 9, 2018.