Legislation to increase New Jersey's hourly minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 and require the rate to then be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index received final legislative approval on today by a vote of 44-31-1.

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The State Senate approved the bill last week. Senate President Steve Sweeney expects Governor Chris Christie to conditionally veto the measure and strip out the CPI clause.

“This is great progress for hard-working New Jersey families struggling to make ends meet,” says Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. “Democrats are united in their belief in a living wage for all New Jerseyan, and we will now see if the Governor shares our core belief. Hopefully, the Governor will sign this bill as-is, but if he does not, then we'll quickly take stock and weigh our next step, including asking the people of New Jersey to decide this important matter.”

Under this legislation, and based on projected trends in the CPI by nonpartisan legislative staff, the minimum wage would rise to $9.49 in 2017.

Sweeney says, “Democrats are united in sending a strong message that people who live and work inNew Jerseyhave a basic right to a wage that doesn’t condemn them to a life of poverty. We are going to make a minimum wage increase reality. We are just giving the governor a chance to do the right thing for working people.”

“Increasing the minimum wage by 17 percent will not helpNew Jersey’s economy,” says Deputy Assembly Republican Leader Anthony Bucco. “It will have a negative effect on a large segment of wage earners who are seasonal employees or part-time workers. Businesses will adjust their operation in a manner that will not help those who are earning money to pay for college tuition or car insurance. At a time when a number of small businesses are trying to recover from October’s super-storm, this bill will not help them in that effort.”