Phil Murphy‘s first official action as New Jersey governor was to sign an executive order Tuesday to support equal pay for women by barring managers in state government from asking job applicants about their previous salary.
The order is in support of equal pay for women and stretches across all public jobs, Murphy said. The Democrat argued the measure will help close the pay gap between men and women in the state.
“I am honored beyond words to take this step today,” Murphy said, with his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, by his si.
Murphy added he “would make it state law” if lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature sends a bill to his desk that would extend the rule to private businesses.
“This is our first executive order,” Murphy said. “And that’s not a coincidence.”
The governor signed the order at a public event shortly after he was sworn into office.
“We don’t have to wait to make our economy stronger and fairer, to attack income inequality, and to protect and grow our middle class,” Murphy said in his inaugural address.
“That’s why, later today, in one of my first official acts, I will sign an executive order promoting equal pay for women,” Murphy said.
The remarks drew loud applause at the Trenton War Memorial’s Patriots Theater.
The signing was held at the temporary governor’s office at the state archives building, where Murphy will work as the Statehouse is closed for renovations.
Murphy was flanked by state lawmakers and dozens of advocates for equal pay for women.
“What a difference three hours make,” state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, who often clashed with former Gov. Chris Christie, quipped.
The lawmakers who joined Murphy promised to reintroduce legislation in the upcoming session that would make the rule state law.
The measure was hailed by the leaders of both legislative chambers, which bodes well for the legislation to make its way to the new governor’s desk.
“The reality is it is something that women face each and every day,” state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex.
“It’s painfully unfair and it’s something that we have to change,” he said. “When you ask for someone’s salary you perpetuate the problem.”
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, thanked Murphy “for really setting the stage for legislation that matters.”