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

After returning from Texas where they helped with the recovery from Hurricane Harvey, members of New Jersey Task Force 1 are heading to Florida because of Hurricane Irma.

Laura Connolly with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management says the specially trained search and rescue crews will assist where needed in Florida.

A New Jersey pilot program will allow Ocean County residents who believe they improperly received Medicaid benefits to withdraw from the program without fear of criminal prosecution.

State comptroller Phil Degnan says the recent arrests of 26 Lakewood residents for public assistance fraud got him thinking about what kind of program to offer.

The drinking water at nearly 400 schools in New Jersey contains lead and advocates say the state must do more to address the problem.

The state is reimbursing school districts for the costs of the water testing.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O'Malley says that's a good start, but he believes remediating lead contamination from old pipes and fixtures should be a state priority.

A new ordinance bans large tents and canopies on the beaches during the summer season at a popular Jersey Shore destination.

The restrictions in Monmouth County's Belmar take effect next year. Mayor Matt Doherty says the big tents won't be allowed between Memorial Day and Labor Day because of complaints that they take up too much space and could endanger public safety.

The Atlantic County Democratic Committee has tapped former freeholder Colin Bell to fill the seat in the New Jersey Senate left vacant by last month's death of Senator Jim Whelan.

Bell was unopposed when he won the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District Senate race in the spring. He isn't sure that becoming a incumbent Senator for a couple of months will give him an edge over Republican candidate Chris Brown who's now a state Assemblyman.

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to prohibit the Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority from adding a fee when seeking payment from motorists without an E-Z pass account who go through cashless toll plazas.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano says drivers who don't have an E-Z Pass account should not be punished with a fine.

"I'm ok with individuals getting a notice for the amount of the toll, but I'm not in favor for them to then also be charged in addition an administrative fee up to $50."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie leaves office in January and says the opioid crisis will be his primary focus until then.

He says he’s ready to work with the legislature to do anything in the lame duck session that makes sense.

He’d like lawmakers to send him a bill that would eliminate accumulated sick time payouts for public employees.

“It’s a disgrace that we have billions of dollars being paid to people for not having been sick. It’s a disgrace. It’s an outrage to the taxpayers. I’ve been saying it for eight years.”

Some New Jersey businesses that rely on foreign students to fill seasonal jobs are hoping President Trump backs away from a campaign promise to eliminate a work visa program.

More than 5,000 foreign students each year participate in the J-1 visa program in New Jersey, working in seasonal jobs for about ten weeks and then spending a month traveling the country.

New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association president Marilou Halvorsen says curtailing the program would hurt businesses that rely on those workers before and after the height of the summer tourism season.

Get ready for a big jump in gasoline prices because of the flooding in Texas.

Tom Kloza, global energy analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey, says gas prices could rise as much as 60 cents a gallon because of refinery shutdowns that are reducing the supply.

New Jersey is providing more manpower and supplies to help with the emergency response to flooding in Texas caused by Tropical Storm Harvey.

Governor Christie says two Blackhawk helicopters and some National Guard members with experience in Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts are going to Texas, and additional 3500 Guard members could be deployed if necessary.

Christie says New Jersey will do anything Texas officials need.

Governor Christie say 15 service areas along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway are in line for renovation or replacement.

Christie says HMS Host and Sunoco have agreed to invest $250 million to upgrade those rest stops in exchange for contracts to operate food and fuel concessions on those toll roads for 25 years.

Specially trained New Jersey search and rescue crews are on their way to assist Texas flood victims.

Laura Connolly with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management says 16 members of New Jersey Task Force 1, three members of the State Police, six boats and five trucks have been deployed to Texas.

"They'll be assisting with swift water operations, with people that drove into floodwaters and are trapped, or they could be going door to door and rescuing people with the boats that we have. So, they'll be taking care of all those water operations down there."

Gasoline prices in the area are starting to move higher because of the storm that's dumping huge amounts of rain in Texas.

Patrick DeHaan is a petroleum analyst at GasBuddy-dot-com. He says refinery shutdowns on the Gulf Coast because of Hurricane Harvey are curtailing the supply of gasoline.

"I would expect gas prices would rise anywhere from 5 to 15 cents a gallon, perhaps even higher, over the next one to one-and-a-half weeks or so. It could go as high as 10 to 25 cents a gallon, maybe even 15 to 30 cents a gallon in kind of the worst-case scenario."

New Jersey Transit's management and culture came in from some blistering criticism at a legislative hearing.

Nancy Erika Smith is a civil rights lawyer. She told state lawmakers there's a toxic, corrupt, sexist, and racist atmosphere at the agency.

"If HR and EEO won't help victims, and they don't at New Jersey Transit, and employees who complain are openly retaliated against, who in their right mind will complain?"

Democrat Phil Murphy says if he becomes New Jersey's next governor he'd sign the gun control bills Governor Christie has vetoed. And he's proposing some additional measures to stem violence.

Murphy says he'd approach neighboring states to talk about coordinating strategies to prevent gun violence.

"We think about 80 percent of the guns involved in crimes in New Jersey come from out of state, so not only to we have to do a better job in our state, we have to engage with our neighbors."

Governor Christie has signed legislation authorizing and regulating fantasy sports games in New Jersey.

Participants pay an entry fee to manage an imaginary team and compete for a predetermined prize.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli says many residents have been playing and the new law will protect consumers.

Five months before he was planning to retire, New Jersey State Senator Jim Whelan has died after suffering a heart attack at his Atlantic City home.

State officials are remembering him as a dedicated public servant.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says Whelan was a role model for lawmakers.

“He seemed to be able to be part of the team, be part of the unified effort, and yet signal out the things that were important to him even if it was going against the tide a bit. He was an eminently decent man, full of integrity.”

A study by a national research group finds that states have cut funds for higher education by nearly $9 billion since the 2008 recession.

Mike Mitchell is an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He says lower state funding for colleges has meant tuition increases, forcing students to incur more debt to pay for college. 

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to change how water providers respond when they find elevated levels of lead in the system.

Assemblyman Dan Benson says current law requires a utility that finds high lead concentrations to send a letter to residents, but not municipalities and school districts.

"You'd want that because so often these municipalities have reverse 911 systems. They can hopefully provide additional information or coordinate a response to make sure that residents are protected."  

Governor Christie once called it the ugliest building in New Jersey. Now he’s saying a multi-billion dollar retail and entertainment complex in the Meadlowlands will be vital to the state’s economy.

Known as Xanadu when it was approved in 2003, the project was plagued by a series of financing problems and construction delays. Christie says what’s now called the American Dream is on the way to becoming a reality.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says President Trump's comments that both sides were equally responsible for the violence in Charlottes, Virginia, were a mistake.

“The people who wanted to cause violence in Charlottesville were the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists who came there to cause violence. And the very underpinnings of their philosophy, if you can call it that, is the use of violence based upon bias and prejudice. And that’s unacceptable in our country.” 

An advocate for children's educational rights is conducting an investigation into schools' compliance with New Jersey's anti-bullying law.

John Rue is the president and general counsel of the Innisfree Foundation. He says the investigation is focused on how school officials interpret the law and decide whether to pursue bullying complaints.

Political analysts believe it's likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy's proposed tax increases will be approved if he's elected and Democrats maintain control of the New Jersey legislature.

Nearly half of the $1.3 billion Murphy's tax hikes are expected to raise would come from a millionaires' tax.  Governor Christie has vetoed five attempts by Democrats to impose that levy. Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin believes Democrats will get it done if Murphy becomes governor.

Environmental groups and New Jersey officials are urging Congress to reject President Donald Trump's proposed 30 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency's budget.

They expressed their opposition to Trump's plan in Brick Township at the base of a bridge that was wiped out by Superstorm Sandy nearly five years ago.

Ed Potosnak leads the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. He says the budget cuts would put the state’s environment in grave danger.

New Jersey officials are standing up against President Donald Trump's offshore oil drilling proposal.

Congressman Frank Pallone says a spill from drilling off the Jersey coast would endanger the shore.

"The problem is that President Trump and the Interior Department seem to think that they should be able to drill anywhere, anytime. They're very oriented toward fossil fuels and they're not big advocates and they don't prioritize renewables."

:

Health care advocates in New Jersey say even though efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have failed, uncertainty about potential changes in the health care marketplace is confusing consumers.

The biggest concern is President Trump's threat to cut federal subsidies that reduce costs for low-income consumers who buy coverage in the health insurance marketplace.

It won't be long until ragweed starts causing problems for people with allergies.

Dr. Leonard Bielory is an allergy specialist at the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction. He says all the moisture in the air recently has delayed the usual early August onset of the ragweed season.

"As long as it rains, ragweed will not pollinate into any considerable amount at all. Then once it dries up, we're going to blossom. So, we expect the next week to really be the real beginning of the ragweed season."

A new bipartisan legislative panel will look into addressing a shortage of middle-skilled workers in New Jersey.

Melanie Willoughby with the New Jersey Business and Industry Association says 80 percent of manufacturers in the nation have a serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions.

“This is not where we want to be with the manufacturing industry in New Jersey that is worth over $44 billion, paying an average salary of $90,450 without a BA.”

A Monmouth University Poll finds Americans are divided about the impact of President Donald Trump's temperament.

Poll director Patrick Murray says 49 percent of Americans like the way Trump makes Washington politicians uncomfortable, while 52 percent believe the President’s treatment of Republicans in Congress has made it difficult to advance improvements in infrastructure and taxes.

Thursday is the last day to submit public comment on President Trump's America-First Energy Strategy to allow oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. The New Jersey region has been off limits to drilling and there's an effort to keep it that way.

Trump administration officials say opening up new areas for drilling will help the nation achieve energy dominance.

Cindy Zipf leads the marine-advocacy group Clean Ocean Action. She says opponents believe it would be harmful.

Pages