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

An advocacy group says steps some public schools are taking to reduce chronic student absenteeism in New Jersey are making a difference.

Peter Chen with Advocates for Children of New Jersey says 9.7 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade missed 18 or more days of school last year. That's down from 10.3 percent the year before.

"Even though the decline was only 0.6 percent, that's about 8,000 fewer students who are chronically absent, which is 8,000 fewer students who are more on track to graduate from high school."

Governor-elect Phil Murphy says legislation to phase-in a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey will be a high priority when he takes office in January.

Murphy joined legislative leaders and labor officials at a Statehouse event where some workers said it's tough to get by on less than $15 an hour.

Sayerville resident Anthony Banos says he works at a warehousing distribution center and has a part-time job at a retail store.

In one of his first major speeches since winning the election, Governor-elect Phil Murphy told the League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City that New Jersey is poised to be the comeback story of the nation.

Murphy did not propose any new initiatives. He reemphasized his commitment to improving New Jersey’s economy, funding education, and investing more in the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“New Jersey Transit barely functions. I’m embarrassed by the service that we provide our customers.

New Jersey is using a million dollars from criminal forfeiture funds to pay for an information campaign intended to prevent conflict during police and civilian encounters.

Attorney General Christopher Porrino says traffic stops are the most common place where misunderstandings can escalate to dangerous situations.

He says videos that will air on television, social media, and in movie theaters provide tips to ensure those encounters are safe and mutually respectful.

Republicans in the New Jersey Congressional delegation were divided when the House of Representatives voted to pass legislation to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program.

The legislation would increase flood insurance premiums for many property owners to fund a program stressed by frequent storms.  It would also make it easier for private companies to get in the flood insurance market.

Congressman Bill Pascrell voted against the bill, saying it does not apply the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy.

A Trenton-based recycling company has received an award from the United Nations for creating a shampoo bottle that’s made with plastic waste collected from beaches and waterways.

TerraCycle chief executive officer Tom Szaky says 25 percent of the world’s plastic ends up in oceans, rivers, and lakes.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy has decided who will fill two top positions in his administration.

Murphy has selected Metuchen Mayor Pete Cammarano to be chief of staff. He'll oversee all the workings of the Governor's Office and the Executive Branch. It's a role he's had before. He served as chief of staff to Senator Dick Codey when he became Governor in 2004. He's also a former member of the New Jersey Casino Redevelopment Authority.

Cammarano will step down as mayor by the end of the year. 

In response to a recent State Commission Investigation report claiming that the New Jersey SPCA is failing to consistently respond to animal cruelty laws, state lawmakers are considering some changes.

At a legislative hearing Brian Hackett, the state director of the Human Society of the United States, said many of the officers in the SPCA that enforce animal cruelty laws serve on a voluntary basis with virtually no funding.

Majority Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly have selected their leadership team for new legislative session that begins in January.

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin from Middlesex County will be the new Assembly Speaker. He’ll take over for Vinnie Prieto who lost a leadership fight and will end his term as Speaker in January.

Coughlin says he intends to be a Speaker that leads by consensus to help move the Democratic agenda forward.

With Democrats about to take full control in January, Republicans in the New Jersey legislature know that a higher minimum wage is not far off.

The top Republican in the state senate now wants to make sure that Democrats don’t go too far.  

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean says the issue of affordability is the greatest challenge confronting New Jersey lawmakers and he’s calling for a bipartisan compromise.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy takes office in January. He met with Governor Chris Christie in Trenton today for about an hour and half to discuss the transition.     

Murphy says it was a terrific meeting.

“Just a great willingness on the Governor’s part to be as helpful as possible and we welcome that obviously. So, it was a good discussion.”

Murphy did not provide any specifics about what they discussed.

He’s decided his Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver will serve as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.

Now that he’s won reelection, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says Democrats who control the legislature want to work with Governor-elect Phil Murphy to advance legislation they couldn’t get through during the Christie administration.  

Sweeney says Democrats’ plans include funding for women’s health care, expanding paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, and phasing in higher pension payments and more money for schools.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Jersey, and other advocates are hoping lawmakers act on a bill to do that within a hundred days of Murphy's inauguration.

Scott Rudder is president of New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. He says after legislation is enacted, it'll take several months to develop regulations, license sellers, and grow the product.

"We really are looking at early 2019 on a very aggressive schedule, but more than likely mid 2019 is when we would see most of the retail sales coming on line."

Democrat Phil Murphy will be the next governor of New Jersey, after defeating Republican Kim Guadagno in the race to replace Chris Christie.

In his victory speech, Murphy told his supporters says the days of division are over and as New Jersey’s next governor he’ll work to rebuild the state.

“It won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be overnight. But let there be no doubt. Starting here, starting now, and starting with us, New Jersey is coming back.”

Murphy says his first task will be living up to his campaign promise to build a stronger and fairer economy.

A political action committee is spending about $400,000 on advertising that ties some New Jersey Republican candidates to unpopular Governor Chris Christie.

That could affect who holds the top position in the state Assembly.

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin says most headcounts of majority Democrats in the Assembly show that current Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto does not have enough support to continue in that role. 

There are two questions on the New Jersey ballot for voters to consider when they go to the polls on Tuesday.

Ed Potosnak with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters says a proposed constitutional amendment would require all the money from environmental damage lawsuits be dedicated to restoring and replacing natural resources.

A day before New Jersey voters select a new governor, a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll shows they're ready to say goodbye to the current one.

Poll director Krista Jenkins says only 17 percent of voters surveyed approve of Chris Christie's job performance while 73 percent disapprove.

"By comparison Governor Christie's predecessor left office with approval numbers that were also upside down, but Jon Corzine still had a higher approval rating when he left office than Governor Christie does now, with numbers that were more than double those for the current governor."

Authorities are trying to determine who sent campaign mailers to homes in Edison, New Jersey, with a red ‘deport’ stamp under the photos of two Asian-American school board candidates.

It's possible the anonymous mailers do not violate election law.

New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission deputy director Joe Donohue says state election law requires political communications distributed by a candidate to have a disclaimer showing the name and address of the person or group that paid for them.

Even before the election of a new governor, a coalition of business groups in New Jersey is mobilizing to oppose any big boost in the state's minimum wage.

A business owner in a 60 second ad from the Protect Jersey Jobs coalition says to stay competitive he can't raise prices.

"If some Trenton politicians have their way and pass these mandates, I'm concerned I would have to cut employees hours or their jobs."

Governor Christie vetoed legislation last year that would have raised New Jersey's minimum wage to $15-an-hour by 2021.

 

With just five days before the election, the GOP candidate for New Jersey governor is on the road, taking her message to the people.

On a bus bound for 50 stops throughout the state, Kim Guadagno says the tour is allowing her to talk directly to voters about lowering taxes and keeping New Jersey from becoming a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants.

Supplies at the Food Bank warehouse in Hillside
Community Food Bank of New Jersey

The holiday season is approaching and food pantries in New Jersey are appealing for donations.

Julienne Cherry with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey says many residents can’t afford to buy the food their families need.

“In the state of New Jersey we still have one million people that are food insecure. And of that almost 300,00 of them are kids, and that’s one in seven kids. So, the need is still there. For every dollar that someone donates we’re able to actually provide three meals.”

Cherry is appealing for donations of turkeys and supplies.

Just days before the election of a new Governor, a Monmouth University poll finds Democrat Phil Murphy holds a 14-point lead over Republican Kim Guadagno among likely voters in New Jersey.

Poll director Patrick Murray says that margin is the same as it was in early October.

A New Jersey Congressman is introducing legislation to combat price gouging after natural disasters.
 
Democrat Frank Pallone says his proposed Stand Up Act would empower the Federal Trade Commission to issue regulations to prohibit excessive pricing of consumer goods or services within 180 days of the declaration of a major disaster and determine the fines for violators.
 
He says no one should have to pay abusive prices for essentials such as food, water, and gasoline when they’re a victim of a natural disaster.

A New Jersey lawmaker is proposing legislation to prevent convicted sex offenders from living near their victims.

Assemblyman Ron Dancer hopes lawmakers will act on his bill in the lame duck session.

“I think this should have priority for the protection of any of these victims so they do not have to think about their molester, their convicted offender, living either next door or within 1,000 feet.”

Republican Kim Guadagno is hoping to be the second woman elected Governor of New Jersey, but female voters are showing more support for Democrat Phil Murphy.

Only 29 percent of likely women voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University favor Guadagno while 65 percent support Murphy.

Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, says that fits with the gender gap observed since 1980. 

Many of the 11,000 voting machines in New Jersey are old and will soon have to be replaced. Amid concerns about hacking, state lawmakers are examining how to make sure new machines will be more secure.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says while there’s no evidence of hacking, the machines are hackable.

Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel say he could quickly break the security seals on a voting machine, replace the chip that records the results, and reseal it so the tampering would be undetectable.

Many New Jersey survivors of Superstorm Sandy are still suffering psychological distress.

Dr. Christine Hatchard is director of the Clinical Psychology Research Center at Monmouth University. She says five years after the storm 15 percent of Sandy victims they’ve been tracking have serious emotional distress. And of those still not back in their homes, 40 percent say they’re stressed out.

Advocates are launching a statewide effort to protect a program that provides food assistance for about 800,000 thousand New Jersey residents.

Adelle LaTourette is the director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition.  She says the budget Congress is considering could cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps low income workers and senior citizens buy the food their families need.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says his administration learned a lot during Superstorm Sandy and the five years of rebuilding.  The recollections of his senior staff and cabinet members have been put in a recovery playbook for the state.

Christie says the book will bring back some tough memories for victims and first responders but it also highlights what’s been accomplished.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey says debates in several legislative districts aren’t being held this year because candidates aren’t willing to participate.

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says avoiding debates is a political strategy for some candidates.

“If you are running ahead, the status quo is your best friend. So you don’t want to upset that by engaging in a debate where something is out of your control.”  

Murray says incumbents might prefer to skip debates.

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