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In Speech, New Jersey Governor Backs Phonics and Medical Debt Relief

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey embraced proposals to make it easier to build affordable housing and cut out-of-pocket expenses for abortions in his annual State of the State address on Tuesday.

The governor, a second-term Democrat barred from running for re-election, also said he would support the increased use of phonics to teach reading and that he would continue to work to ease the burden of medical debt, presumably by expanding a program he funded last year that sought to leverage $10 million to retire 100 times that amount in residents’ debt.

“In the wealthiest nation in the world,” the governor told lawmakers from the Senate and Assembly in a joint address in Trenton, “nobody should have to worry about being able to afford critical health care services or a lifesaving medical procedure.”

The goals mentioned by the governor were fairly modest as he looks ahead to his final two years in office, and they largely piggybacked on existing initiatives proposed by the Democrat-led Legislature.

Mr. Murphy made a glancing reference to his support for wind energy, but offered no hint about how he might pivot after the Danish company Orsted abruptly withdrew in November from its plan to build two wind farms off the Jersey Shore. The canceled projects represented a major setback for the state’s, and the country’s, ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change, and some feared it could hurt Democrats days before an election.

Even before the Orsted announcement, most Democrats in tight races had avoided campaigning with Mr. Murphy, who was re-elected in November 2021 by only about three percentage points. Democrats, however, went on to expand their majority in Trenton, leading the governor to appear to take a veiled swipe Tuesday at his legislative colleagues.

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