"Everything, together, shows the promise of the new, post-COVID day that is just beginning to dawn," Murphy said in his prepared remarks.
"It’s a day we will enter not fearing what’s next, but knowing where we’re heading. And that direction is forward."
Here are some highlights of the speech:
Murphy kept his speech light on specifics of what to expect in the year ahead, even on the marijuana legalization that voters approved to start two weeks ago but has been delayed in negotiations among Democrats.
It's unclear how much longer the legal framework will take to be approved by Murphy, who sought to impose penalties for underage possession of the drug when legislation was in its final stages.
But he said New Jersey is on the cusp of passing "innovative and groundbreaking" laws to reform a "historically unjust approach" to the drug, presumably referring to the disproportionate number of Blacks arrested on possession charges.
"This hasn't been an easy fight, nor has it happened as quickly as I would have liked, but we are in a better place, a smarter place, and a more just place than ever before," Murphy said.
More:NJ legal weed held up — again — over youth marijuana penalties wanted by Gov. Phil Murphy
Criminal justice, voting reforms After a year of civil unrest, backlash to policing and a historic election turnout, Murphy said he plans to advance policies to address criminal justice issues and expand voter franchise.
In addition to reforms of police use-of-force reports initiated by the attorney general after news reports by the Asbury Park Press and NJ Advance Media, Murphy said he is committed to eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug and property crimes.
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Create AccountA bill to do that would have sailed to Murphy's desk and presumably been law by now had a state senator, Nick Sacco of Hudson County, not added official misconduct to the legislation that would apply to public corruption.
Murphy has said he is opposed to including official misconduct in the minimum sentences legislation and did not include it in his speech.
Calling the reforms long overdue, Murphy said "we must get this done."
Having already made automatic voter registration law and conducted a statewide mail-in ballot presidential election, Murphy said it is time to "take the next step" and expand early in-person voting to give more people the opportunity to cast ballots.
"I am already working with the Legislature to enact a true, in-person early voting law, among other measures, to further open up our democracy," he said.
"Regardless of your party affiliation, your vote is your voice, and this country is better off when more of us are heard."
More:NJ election: State sees record 4.4M mail votes. Here's which counties had highest turnout.
More:Why NJ's new police use-of-force reporting system is a 'gamechanger'
Ethics, againAfter criticism of the culture of his last gubernatorial campaign, Murphy proposed plans in last year's State of the State to overhaul ethics reforms to strengthen financial disclosures, tighten pay-to-play requirements and expand transparency.
They went nowhere.
And not long after the pandemic struck, Murphy signed a law delivered by fellow Democrats giving records custodians more leniency in responding to requests for records, which in many cases put transparency on hold for weeks and months.
On top of all that, Murphy created several advisory panels and task forces to guide his pandemic and vaccine response, which are not held to transparency rules and which operate out of public view, and Murphy's administration has refused to release records.
Still, Murphy said he remains committed to the ethics proposals of last year.
"New Jerseyans need to know — not just believe — that their government has their backs," he said.
Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the minority leader, said there has been a "total lack of transparency" from the Murphy administration and people deserve to hear his strategies for reopening schools and businesses.
“The governor needs to be willing to work in an bipartisan manner with the Legislature," Kean said in a statement. "We could have prevented the policy failures that led to unnecessary deaths in our nursing and veterans homes, the closure of nearly one-third of New Jersey’s small businesses, and the unemployment of nearly two-million New Jerseyans."
The Republican leader in the Assembly, Jon Bramnick, said he supports early voting and ethics reform, but being in the minority, he has no say in whether the bills will advance.
Like other Republicans, he criticized Murphy's policies over the last three years, saying taxes and spending have burdened the middle class.
"He didn’t address any of the problems that the average New Jerseyan experiences and why people are so concerned with the future," Bramnick said in a videoconference afterward. "It was a very broad-based speech."
The state Republican Party chairman, Michael Lavery, was much more critical. He called the past year the "Murphy Meltdown" and blamed the governor for exacerbating challenges, such as unemployment claims and vulnerabilities in nursing homes, where about 40% of state COVID deaths happened.
"The governor failed in his response to the pandemic," Lavery said, adding, "Our state is taxing and spending more than ever, and Murphy's massive debt scheme will leave our children footing the bill."