Phil Gregory

Statehouse Reporter

Phil has been the Statehouse Reporter in Trenton for both WBGO and WHYY in Philadelphia since 2009.

He’s a long-time reporter in the tri-state area. For 10 years he worked at Bloomberg Radio in New York City where he anchored coverage of several major events including the 9/11 attacks and the 2003 blackout. He also covered business and market news as a reporter from the New York Stock Exchange.

Phil is a native of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania and started his broadcast career at WAEB in Allentown, PA where he advanced to become News Director. He was an award-winning reporter and anchor at radio stations WPTR, WFLY and WROW in Albany, NY and at WOBM in Toms River, NJ. Phil is a past President of the Empire State Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been a broadcast instructor at the New School of Contemporary Radio in Albany and at Monmouth University.

Outside of work he enjoys visiting historical, nature and entertainment sites.

Ways to Connect

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing the state comptroller to conduct an audit of the Economic Development Authority’s tax incentive programs.

Murphy says the EDA approved $8 billion in tax incentives since 2010 and the audit will compare the actual economic impact with the projected benefits when the awards were granted.

“We’re going to look back at the types of jobs that were created and where they were created. And we’re going to examine the entire application process including the fees that were paid to lobbyists and consultants.”

The future of New Jersey’s ad campaign to combat the opioid epidemic is being examined.

The state spent about $42 million on the ‘Reach NJ’ ads that featured former Governor Chris Christie telling people where to call for help.

“If you’re struggling with addiction, supporting someone who is, or just don’t know where to turn, don’t suffer. Help is within reach.”

Senate Health Committee chairman Joe Vitale says the state needs to determine whether the ads are having the desired effect.

 

Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly say they’re willing to work with Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, but they have concerns about the fiscal impact of his proposals.

Murphy has a progressive agenda that includes paying more to fund pensions and full funding for the school funding formula, universal pre-kindergarten programs, free county college tuition, and fixing New Jersey Transit.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says some of those proposals are good ideas, but believes they would cost 5-to-7 billion dollars.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is tightening the rules on the disclosure of gifts he can receive from personal friends

Murphy signed an executive order that makes a change in the governor’s code of conduct.

“The most meaningful tweak and this is one that I think is important is a very bright line distinction between preexisting relationships and folks that we’ve met in a political context.”

Murphy says if he were friends with someone at least three years before his inauguration, he would not have to disclose gifts they gave him. 

New Jersey now has the nation's first Sikh Attorney General.

There was no opposition when the New Jersey Senate voted to confirm former Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal as the state's top law enforcement officer.

Judiciary committee chairman Nick Scutari says he's confident Grewal is the right person for the job.

In his inauguration speech, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy vowed to take the state in a new direction.

Murphy promises a stronger and fairer New Jersey that creates better jobs and provides higher wages, funds public schools and delivers on the promise of property tax relief.

Murphy says he’ll put his ideals into his first state budget in a few weeks, but believes there’s no need to wait for that to alter the state’s trajectory.

Just hours after being inaugurated, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed his first executive order. It promotes equal pay for women.  

Murphy says the order prohibits any effort by a state agency to ask a job applicant about their wage history.

“Here and now we begin the process of bulldozing the roadblocks that have kept women from being paid fairly, that have kept many women of color from fulfilling their dreams of entering the middle class and that have allowed our wage gap to persist.”

The schools superintendent in Asbury Park is Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s choice to be New Jersey’s next Education Commissioner.

Murphy says Lamont Repollet is an educational leader who’s focused on students.

“What Dr. Repollet has accomplished is nothing short of a turnaround. Literacy rates are up. Test scores are up. Attendance is up. Confidence and morale among staff are up.”

Repollet says the long-term success of the state relies on the ability to provide children with access to quality education.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy wants to end the use of the standardized PARCC test in New Jersey.

New Jersey started using PARCC assessments to measure student skills in the 2014-15 school year.

At an elementary school in Asbury Park where he announced Lamont Repollet to be the next education commissioner, Murphy said it’s time to scrap those tests.

“We are asking Dr. Repollet to end the failed experiment that has been PARCC testing and create new more effective and less class time intrusive means for measuring student assessment.”

Governor Christie
Phil Gregory for WBGO News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now serving his final days in office. On Tuesday, Democrat Phil Murphy will be sworn in. With a bigger than life personality, Christie was hailed for his commanding leadership after Superstorm Sandy, but Bridgegate took its toll on his political viability.

He leaves office with historic low approval ratings for a governor. Political analysts say Christie made some big changes, many positive, but they say most residents are glad to see him go.

New Jersey doesn't mandate training on preventing sexual harassment for state lawmakers and their staff and some legislative leaders want that to change.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin say it’s time to update the state’s policy that was enacted nine years ago.

Weinberg says the Me-Too movement shows women don't have to put up with sexual harassment.

Governor Christie and some of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers want the entire Atlantic Coast excluded from the Trump Administration’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department granted a request from Florida officials to exempt that state from offshore drilling because it could devastate its tourism industry and coastal economy.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez believes New Jersey should also be exempt.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy might not be getting speedy approval from the New jersey legislature for some of his priorities.
 
Murphy wants to impose a tax surcharge on millionaires and use the money to increase funding for public schools.
 
Senate President Steve Sweeney says state lawmakers won’t rush to do that.  He’s forming a panel of economists and tax experts to study the impact of federal tax changes that limit the deductions for state and local taxes and consider possible tax reforms.
 

New Jersey Governor Christie spent most of the time in his final state-of-the-state speech highlighting the accomplishments of his eight-years in office.

Christie credited the Democratically controlled legislature for helping him control public employee pension costs, reign in property tax increases, restructure higher education, and make needed improvements in Atlantic City and Camden.



New Jersey lawmakers held a hearing to examine New Jersey Transit’s rail operations.

One of the things they’re concerned about is whether the agency will meet the end of the year deadline to install a collision avoidance system that can slow or stop a train if the operator doesn’t comply with signals or the speed limit.

Only 137 New Jersey Transit employees have been trained about Positive Train Control and just 6 percent of its locomotives have been outfitted with the equipment. 

Many people will welcome the New Year with a champagne toast. But you don’t have to shell out big bucks for that bottle of bubbly.

George Staikos is a certified sommelier who hosts The Educated Grape website and teaches a wine appreciation class at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

He says Champagne, a type of sparkling wine that’s produced from grapes grown in a specific region of France, can cost as much as $200 a bottle.

But there are plenty of less expensive sparkling wines such as Cava, which comes from Spain.   

It's cold now, but New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson says this has been the 6th warmest year on record in the Garden State.

“We had a warmer February than March, which was really quite remarkable. February was record warm and March was a bit below average. April was the warmest on record. September was the 10th warmest on record and October was the 2nd warmest on record. And those records go back to 1895."

Robinson explains why it was so warm.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy has selected another member of his cabinet.

Murphy is appointing Jared Maples to lead the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. He’s been Acting Director since June.

Maples spent more than a decade in various leadership roles at the CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

He’ll continue to serve as the governor’s Homeland Security Advisor and coordinate the state’s counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and emergency preparedness efforts.

When New Jersey's minimum wage goes up on January 1st, some workers who make more than that might also get a raise.

Brandon McKoy with New Jersey Policy Perspective says the 16-cents-an hour increase will directly affect 91,000 workers who now earn less than the new $8.60 minimum.

He says another 209,000 employees are also likely to make more.

"They currently make between $8.60 and about $8.76 an hour and they're going to basically see an increase in their pay as employers adjust the pay scales upward to reflect the new minimum wage."

New Jersey lawmakers are expected to consider legislation in the new year to legalize recreational marijuana in the Garden State.

One shore town doesn't want marijuana sales within its borders.

The Point Pleasant Beach council has passed an ordinance that bans marijuana dispensaries.

Mayor Stephen Reid says they would not be a good fit for his community.

The new year will bring some tax changes in New Jersey.

A 2016 law that raised the state tax gas also provides for tax breaks taking effect January 1st.

Senator Steve Oroho says for residents 62 and older, the amount of pensions and other retirement income excluded from the state income tax goes up to $45,000 for individuals and $60,000 for those who file joint returns.

"I actually do think It'll keep more people here in the state. Our retirees do want to stay around by their families."

The estate tax will be completely eliminated.

The leader of the New Jersey Senate says lawmakers will hold a hearing to examine insurance products being offering by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says he wants to make sure insurance companies aren’t making enormous profits at the expense of quality health care for consumers.

“Horizon dominates the market right now. They have more than 50% of the market and they’re coming out with another product to deal with Medicare. And we want to know the impacts of these products for consumers and hospitals.”

New Jersey’s minimum wage goes up to $8.40 an hour at the start of the new year.  A constitutional amendment voters approved in 2013 ties the base pay to inflation. Larger increases could be on the way.

Analilia Mejia, the director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, says the 16 cent an hour increase that takes effect January 1st is not enough in a such a high-cost state.

“Think about, how much people have to pay for rent and transportation and food and child care. You’re finding yourself in a situation where it’s impossible to make ends meet.”

Governor-elect Phil Murphy has selected the EPA’s regional administrator to lead New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

If she’s confirmed as DEP Commissioner, Catherine McCabe says one of her priorities will be focusing on climate change.

“It’s over time for us to start taking some action on that and to building up the shore resiliency. There have been a lot of efforts. The federal government has been part of that as well as the state, but we haven’t done enough and we haven’t done it fast enough.”

After a five-hour hearing on the measure, legislation that could impose a surcharge on electric customers to keep three nuclear plants open in South Jersey has been advanced by a joint Senate and Assembly committee.

Public Service Enterprise Group says the nuclear plants could become unprofitable in two years and be shut down.

Ratepayer advocate Stefanie Brand worries the legislation could cost ratepayers over $300 million a year. She says there’s no evidence to demonstrate subsidies are needed.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy continues his theme of diversity in selecting members of his cabinet, nominating a Cuban-American Assemblywoman to be the next Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance.

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride says she'll work to ensure New Jersey residents are treated fairly by lending institutions and insurance companies.

New Jersey lawmakers will hold a hearing tomorrow on a bill that calls for raising the cost for electricity customers to keep two nuclear plants in Salem County open. 

Public Service Enterprise Group CEO Ralph Izzo told lawmakers earlier this month that the nuclear facilities could become unprofitable to operate in two years and might have to be shut down.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports the objective of keeping the nuclear plants open as long as they can be operated safely.

Local government officials in New Jersey are urging Governor-elect Phil Murphy to support permanently extending the 2% cap on police and firefighters salary increases when contract disputes go to binding arbitration.

The cap is set to expire at the end of the year and Democratic legislative leaders are waiting to hear whether Murphy supports it before taking action to extend it.

Murphy is awaiting a final report from a commission studying the cap before making his decision.

Republican Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon doubts that report will ever come.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy is nominating a former Passaic County freeholder and administrative law judge to be New Jersey’s next Secretary of State.

If she’s confirmed by the state Senate, Tahesha Way will oversee New Jersey’s Division of Tourism, all state historic and cultural commissions, and the Division of Elections.

Murphy says he’ll ask her to take the lead in efforts to modernize and expand the ability of residents to cast their votes.

The New Jersey Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing Monday on legislation that would require the state Attorney General’s Office to operate a statewide gun buyback program.

Ten occasional buyback events were held over the past five years in various parts of the state allowing citizens to turn in firearms for cash payments.

Senator Linda Greenstein says her bill would requiring nine gun buyback events every year.

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