- Associated Press - Monday, October 23, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The Democratic candidate running to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that voters should judge him on whether he grows the state’s economy and whether it becomes “fair.”

Phil Murphy, a former Obama administration ambassador to Germany and Goldman Sachs executive, avoided specifics, telling The Associated Press his plan to grow the infrastructure and innovation economies couldn’t be boiled down to one legislative or regulatory change.

But he said he plans to raise the minimum wage, address earned sick leave and restore funding to Planned Parenthood. He also said he plans to ramp up funding of the pension, which could take longer than a year, and he wants school aid increased “immediately.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who’s also running for the seat, has attacked Murphy over the projected costs of his proposals. Her campaign hasn’t responded to requests from the AP to reschedule an interview after two previous interviews were canceled.

Murphy faces Guadagno on Nov. 7.

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FULLY FUNDED DEFINED

Murphy said that it would take longer than a year to accomplish one of his central promises to fully fund the pension, but he said fully funding the state’s education formula would be done “immediately.”

Murphy’s central pitch has been fully funding the state’s public pension and increasing state aid to schools by applying a funding formula established in 2008 but not fully paid for by Christie, who’s term-limited.

Fully funding those items would entail increasing the pension payment from about $2.6 billion this fiscal year under Christie to more than $5 billion and increasing education funding by about $1 billion annually.

Murphy left unclear Monday whether he would follow the ramped-up payment schedule that Christie has adopted on the pension and didn’t account for how he would reach the estimated $3 billion to $4 billion in increased costs for retirements and education.

His plan calls for $1.3 billion in new revenue, including an increase in income tax rates for those making more than $1 million annually.

Guadagno hasn’t specified whether she would fully fund schools or the pension but has attacked Murphy over the projected cost of the proposals. Instead, she’s calling for an audit of state government that she says would help pay for her property tax plan.

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HOLDING HIMSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Murphy declined to cite a way for voters to hold him accountable, saying it would be difficult to measure success early on because the changes would take time.

“I think voters should look to whether we’ve established the inputs we think are needed to get the desired outputs over time,” he said, describing those outputs as economic growth and a fairer economy.

Asked whether there was a bill or regulatory change he would implement to achieve the restoration of what he has termed the infrastructure and innovation economies, Murphy said, “there isn’t to be honest.”

Murphy instead cast New Jersey under the Christie administration as “undermanaged” and emphasized his promises to increase the minimum wage and pass earned sick leave legislation.

“It’s a cluster of economic steps,” he said. “And I think separately it’s a cluster of steps that are getting back to standing for the right things again, so that would include things like funding Planned Parenthood, signing sensible gun safety laws, taking the steps on climate.”

Guadagno has said she would not run for re-election if she doesn’t lower property taxes.

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For more on the New Jersey governor’s race, go to https://www.apnews.com/tag/NewJerseyGovernor’sRace

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