Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says she's willing to work with Gov. Chris Christie and other lawmakers to get a minimum wage increase signed into law.

A proposal to raise New Jersey's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour is getting its first legislative hearing on Thursday.

Oliver was the first to testify on the bill's behalf. She says 129,000 workers earn just $7.25 an hour.

Christie said Wednesday that he would not consider the bill unless Democrats approach him directly.

Oliver says she phoned Christie Thursday morning.

Proponents say a higher wage floor will keep more families from poverty and help stimulate the economy by encouraging spending.

The state Business and Industry Association says small businesses can't absorb a 17 percent increase in the minimum wage in the current economy.

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