Following the full Assembly’s approval today of a measure to put the question directly before registered voters at the next general election, New Jerseyans might have the final say as to whether or not the state will raise its minimum wage.

Sean Gallup, Getty Images

The resolution proposes increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 puts the question of raising the minimum hourly wage in New Jersey right before the voters via a referendum if the resolution passes again next year.

Democratic Assemblyman Tim Eustace says, “It’ll bring people up to a livable wage in New Jersey where people can actually afford to pay their bills……It’s a complete thought that we want to increase jobs and increase the standard of living in this state.”

“It’s terrible public policy,” says Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick. “You don’t amend the constitution of the State of New Jersey with an annual increase in the minimum wage…..It tells businesses that they do not know what to expect next year. That’s not how you run a business (or) plan a business and you’re sending a terrible message to business owners.”

Raising the minimum wage to $8.25 would give New Jersey one of the highest minimum wages in the country (Washington, Oregon and Vermont have minimum wages greater than $8.25; Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and the District of Columbia set $8.25 as their minimum).

The annual income for a full-time employee working the entire year at the current minimum wage is $15,080; raising the minimum wage would raise that figure to $17,160. A weekly paycheck would go from $290 to $330, a difference of $40.