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Governor Codey: This Moment in History has Given Us the Opportunity to Chart a New Course"
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State of the State Address Outlines Ambitious Agenda to Restore Public Trust in Government

January 16, 2005 (rt23 news) - (TRENTON)- In his first State of the State speech, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey today unveiled an active gubernatorial agenda that builds upon his long-time commitment to protecting New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents and strives to regain the public trust in government.

In his speech, the Acting Governor spoke with optimism about new opportunities for the people of New Jersey and pledged to rise to the challenges ahead.

“I assumed this office at a time of political upheaval for the people of New Jersey. Our faith in government has been shaken. But this moment in history has given us the opportunity to chart a new course. Together, we have begun to restore faith, integrity, and hope to our government.”

“I fully recognize that I was not elected to this position. I did not run for it. And I did not seek it. But, I will not run from the responsibility and I will not shy from the challenges.”

The Acting Governor reflected on the values he was taught as a child, the same values that have guided him throughout his career in public service and that formed the foundation of his ambitious agenda as governor, despite an abbreviated term.

“In the time I have as your Governor, I want to accomplish a few basic things. I want to bring stability and dignity to the State House. I want to start the process of restoring the public’s trust in the institutions of government. I want to be an advocate for the people who don’t have time to read the newspaper, or the money to make a political contribution.

“My parents taught me to do what you can, with what you have, in the time you are given. And now is that time.”

Codey’s agenda for the coming year focuses on reforming government’s image from one that corrupts to one that protects:

“Although Washington refuses to acknowledge the obvious, we are taking it upon ourselves to make sure New Jersey is prepared…If we have one priority for the year ahead it will be the protection of our schools. And if the parents of New Jersey hear only one thing from me today, hear this: I will leave no stone unturned to keep our children safe from the horrors of terrorism.”
•Develop comprehensive school security checklist
•State police to oversee visits to every school to monitor compliance
•Domestic Preparedness Task Force to develop guidelines and recommendations for school technology
•Federal and State homeland security officials to offer school security training
•Attorney General to devise program to monitor school construction/renovation activity
•Summit on school security at Rutgers University this spring

“There is nothing more important to our democracy than the trust of the citizens. And when that trust wavers, the question is not whether we should act, but how much we can achieve.”
Overhaul the Executive Commission on Ethics to make it more independent
•Make majority of members public members
•Instill mandatory ethics audits
•Create mandatory ethics training for state employees
•Enact new penalties and enforcement powers
Restore the Public Advocate

“Strengthening democracy means more than fighting public corruption. It means maximizing voting opportunities and ensuring that every vote truly counts.”
Make it easier to vote
•Permit more time for individuals to register to vote
•Allow individuals to use any absentee ballots for any reason
•Make every vote count
•Provide paper receipt for electronic votes
•Make New Jersey relevant in Presidential primaries
•Move up New Jersey political primary

“Strengthening the integrity of our government shows our commitment to democracy, fighting for those without a voice shows true compassion. For too long we have swept the problems of mental illness under the carpet and hoped they would go away. Well, that is not going to continue. Not on my watch.”
Provide more housing
•$200 million Housing Fund to help create 10,000 affordable housing opportunities for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities.

Recruit and retain more quality workers
•Forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for any college graduate who works in a state, county or non-profit mental health of social service agency

More services for postpartum depression sufferers
•Provide free mental health screenings for uninsured new mothers (first state in the nation to offer this)
•Launch education campaign on postpartum depression

“The care of individuals with mental illness is only one aspect of our health care system that can be improved in the year ahead. More than a million New Jerseyans have no health insurance. I know we have a budget crisis. But that cannot be an excuse to do nothing. We must do something, and now.”
•Open 10 new community health centers that will serve an additional 30,000 residents
•Open pharmacies at health centers to provide low cost prescription drugs

“We have the scientists, we have the research industries, and we have the commitment to make New Jersey an international center of stem cell excellence. But it will not happen by itself. It will not happen without actions to match our words.”
Second largest commitment to stem cell research in the nation
•Build and equip the New Jersey Stem Cell Research Institute
•$230 million ballot initiative for research money

“If a man or a woman puts in an honest day’s work, they should be able to earn a living wage. That’s a fair proposition, one the workers of this state deserve and a proposition we should all support.”
•Increase minimum wage to $7.15 over two years
•Create Business and Labor Advisory Council to recommend regular increases

Posted by: Staff at
January 16, 2005

Governor Codey: This Moment in History has Given Us the Opportunity to Chart a New Course"

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