Jersey Minimum Wage Bill Moves Forward [POLL]
New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is pressing ahead with a plan to boost the minimum wage in the Garden State. Her legislation - which could be voted on in the coming weeks - would increase the minimum wage from 7-25 to 8-50 an hour, and establish an automatic annual increase based on the consumer price index.
She says if someone is working a 40 hour week collecting minimum wage "the annual salary is less than 17 thousand dollars a year - we all know that gets you nowhere in the state of New Jersey… we have got to address this and be fair - we've passed a significant number of tax credit bills -this is the very issue that is I believe, that is incensing Main Street America - that government is not standing up and adopting positions that are going to help regular, working class people."
She says increasing the minimum wage will provide an economic boost to the state, because "this is what we do know about low income wage earners -every dollar they earn is a dollar that immediately gets spent…it would immediately put 3 thousand 2 hundred dollars into the hands of those that are minimum wage earners, and that money is going to go directly back into our economy in New Jersey."
Oliver adds "we have some of the highest wage earners in the country living in the Garden state, but we also have some of the poorest people to be found in the country right here in New Jersey and I think this is an issue that really warrants our support…it is now winter time -there are families that struggle to provide a winter coat for 3 kids in the family."
Stefanie Riehl, an Assistant VP at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, says the NJBIA has historically been opposed to any proposal to increase the minimum wage "in large part because there are some concerns that the very people you seek to help you'll actually be hurting - we have a limited pool of resources with how fragile our economy is right now, and if companies are forced to increase salaries, you may see a situation where employees are hurt in some other way - whether that be a reduction in wages, or a reduction in benefits or something of that sort…if they get a few extra dollars per hour - but then they get some kind of a reduction with the hours that they're working, that would be counter-productive…we believe these low wage earners should be getting more resources so they can have the skill training and education and tools that will carry them through this job and the next job as opposed to giving them artificial resources at this point."
When asked about the issue at an appearance in Camden, Governor Christie said "we just had a report that was issued by the study group on minimum wage, which suggested not to raise the minimum wage from where it is now, I've read that report, I think it makes a lot of good points, and I would tell you I'm not inclined to do that (raise it) but as with everything, I'll sit and listen to the arguments on both sides, and make a determination when I have to, but certainly given my read of the report issued by the Department of Labor, I wouldn't be inclined to do it, but we'll have to wait and see, and I look forward to having a conversation with the Speaker about it, we have not spoken about that issue yet, but I'm sure we will in the coming weeks, and when we do, I'll be happy to listen- what I don't want to do, as we're just beginning to create private sector jobs in the state, I do not want to make it more difficult to create more (jobs) at any level of employment, and so that would be my main concern, but we'll see, there might be a way for us to work together on it , I'm not sure."