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Where NJ gubernatorial candidates Murphy, Ciattarelli stand on several key issues

Jack Ciattarelli and Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) hold different views on certain topics, such as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. – Photo by Governor Phil Murphy / Twitter and Jack Ciattarelli / Twitter

With the New Jersey gubernatorial election set to take place this Tuesday, here is where Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), who is running for reelection, and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, stand on a variety of key issues ranging from health care to higher education.

This list is by no means exhaustive and is only designed to give a brief synopsis of the candidates’ platforms.



In early 2020, Murphy mandated the closing of all nonessential businesses and public, private and parochial schools in New Jersey as well as mask-wearing, among other measures to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. He has released these requirements since the distribution of vaccines, but masks are still required in schools, and pre-K-12 school employees and state workers must receive either the vaccine or weekly testing, according to NJ Advance Media.

Recently, a conservative activist group named Project Veritas released a video where a senior advisor for Murphy appears to say that he will enforce broader vaccine mandates if he wins the election and has refrained from doing so to keep swing voters on his side.


While Ciattarelli has said he agrees that people should get vaccinated, he opposes making vaccines mandatory, according to his campaign website.

Though, he does support the current policy of having teachers and state workers get tested weekly if they opt not to get vaccinated, according to NJ Advance Media. He has said he disagrees with sweeping mask mandates and requiring masks in schools.



Murphy supports access to high-quality, affordable health insurance for all New Jerseyans and has focused on accessibility, affordability and transparency in health care throughout his time in office, according to his campaign website

In 2020, he created a state-run health care exchange to expand on the Affordable Care Act and establish a marketplace focused on the needs of New Jerseyans, according to the website. This exchange ultimately allowed for hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents to qualify for financial assistance, with premiums on the individual market anticipated to fall by 29 percent in 2021.

In addition, Murphy ended surprise out-of-network billing, reduced health care spending by billions of dollars and established an Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency, according to the website. He also enacted a plan focused on equity in health care and maternal and infant health crisis, and proposed the Cover All Kids initiative.


“Ensuring access to affordable, high-quality healthcare and putting patients and their doctors in control of personal healthcare decisions, are imperative,” Ciattarelli said, according to his campaign website. “As Governor, I will work to enact reforms that deliver on those priorities.”

He supports ending the rejection or limitation of health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and supports state-sponsored reimbursement programs that address catastrophic care claims to better stabilize health insurance markets and expand coverage. He also supports free-market health systems, medical freedom and vaccine choice, opposing mandatory vaccinations and vaccine passports.

In addition, he also plans to better invest Medicaid dollars to promote clinics in the community that provide access to high-quality and culturally competent healthcare to those who experience barriers, and approve a new law currently being blocked by Murphy that deals with access to health care and services through telemedicine, according to the website.



Coming into office, Murphy promised to increase the affordability of higher education through free community college for all New Jersey residents, according to NJ Advance Media. So far, he has made community college free for students in lower-income households through the Community College Opportunity Grant, and the Garden State Guarantee now allows such students to receive an additional two years of free tuition at New Jersey public universities.


Ciattarelli plans to lower college costs by $5,000 to $10,000 for every student through what he calls a “a top-to-bottom cost-savings audit” for each New Jersey college, according to his campaign website. He said in an interview with college information talk show host Anthony Uva that he wants to work with college administrators to reduce expenses for students beyond providing more state aid, though he is against free tuition.

“I think it’s important that the family, the student have a skin in the game,” Ciattarelli said in the interview. “We need our students to take this seriously, and having a skin in the game does that. But at the same time, we have to make sure it’s within everybody’s reach so they can get a high-quality education.”



Murphy supports the idea of creating a stronger economy through promoting good jobs and wages, guaranteeing protections for all workers and ensuring all New Jerseyans can benefit from the growth, according to his campaign website

Going forward, Murphy plans on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, ensuring earned sick leave and paid family leave for workers, restoring the millionaire’s tax, investing in green jobs, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments, supporting New Jersey-based startups through the Innovation Evergreen Fund and transforming the state’s infrastructure through historic investments in roads and bridges.


Ciattarelli’s economic platform includes two main components, with one being to “build an open economy to promote growth and opportunity for all,” and the other being to “upgrade infrastructure to improve safety and facilitate commerce,” according to his campaign website.

The first component includes plans of substantially lowering the state’s corporate business tax over five years, offering businesses more flexibility in terms of corporate governance rules and eliminating the capital gains tax on the sale of small mom-and-pop shops, homes or second homes, among others.

The second component includes plans such as supporting and working with national leaders on the Gateway Project, reforming the state Department of Transportation to allow for it to complete projects more efficiently and quickly, as well as securing federal and state investments toward relieving traffic congestion on major roads, among others.



With the goal of having New Jersey run completely on clean energy by 2050, Murphy’s administration has approved the state’s first three offshore wind farms and recently brought solar energy and electric vehicle initiatives into law. Murphy also signed an executive order bringing the state back into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which places a regional cap on carbon dioxide emissions.


Ciattarelli was against the state rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in his 2017 campaign for governor, but said after Tropical Storm Ida that addressing climate change should be a priority. He calls for lowering carbon emissions through incentives and redirecting funds for offshore wind farm projects to dredging and charging stations for electric vehicles instead, according to his campaign website.



Murphy has supported and pushed for the passage of the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030), which is a bill currently pending in legislature that, if passed, will ingrain Roe v. Wade in state law and expand access to certain reproductive health services and products, according to an article from NJ Advance Media. Some of these would include making contraceptives free and requiring insurance carriers to cover abortion services, among other changes. 

He also supports the funding of Planned Parenthood and previously restored $7.5 million into the organization following funding cuts to women’s clinics for health screenings and contraception by former Gov. Chris Christie in 2010, according to the article.


Ciattarelli supports a woman’s right to abortion with certain restrictions and opposes the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030), according to the article. He said if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, he would sign a law to protect abortion rights in New Jersey.

He supports the proposed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks and provide women with access high-quality prenatal care and education, according Ciattarelli’s campaign website. He also supports parental notification for minors seeking an abortion, opposes taxpayer funding of abortion and supports new, educative approaches to reduce teenage and unwanted pregnancies.

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