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New Jersey Minimum Wage Debate Begins Anew – Is It Time to Raise It? [POLL]

NJ Assembly Democrats Facebook
NJ Assembly Democrats Facebook

With Superstorm Sandy’s remnants littering parts of the state, the Senate and Assembly are tackling once again the question of how to raise the minimum wage here in New Jersey.

There’s some agreement between Senate Democrats to back the Assembly version of the bill that would raise the minimum wage from its current 7.25 an hour to 8.50 and to include yearly raises based on the rate of inflation.

All along, there’s always been the likelihood of the Governor’s veto, and should that present itself again, Senate President Sweeney has the “constitutional amendment” ploy up his sleeve…something the Governor, back when the debate first began, called, paraphrasing, “foolish”!

However, it looks as though there may be some “give” in the Governor’s position, because, according to this:

Until now, Senate President Stephen Sweeney had backed raising the wage by changing the state constitution because Christie has pledged to veto any automatic increases. The governor has expressed a willingness to negotiate on a one-time increase.

“There has been a lot of common ground between the Assembly and the Senate on minimum wage, but the difference has been how to get there,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

She called the cost of living adjustments a “line in the sand” for Senate Democrats: “It’s vital that we get the cost of living increases.”

Assembly Democrats also said they’re open to pursuing a constitutional amendment after sending the bill to the governor.

“My position on it has always been we ought to complete the legislative path to raise the minimum wage and place it on the governor’s desk to see what his reaction and response will be,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Then we can always approach an alternate path once we know that.”

The bill (A2162), which passed the full Assembly in May but has languished in the Senate, is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Budget Committee on Monday. The last time a Senate body took action on it was eight months ago, when the labor committee approved it. The full Senate is next scheduled to meet on Nov. 29. No list of bills is available yet.

Adam Bauer, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, said it’s “heartening” Democrats are pursuing the raise through legislation and noted Republicans unsuccessfully tried to bring Oliver’s bill up in an Oct. 15 hearing on Sweeney’s plan to raise the wage.

“If they’re really serious about trying this through the legislative route first, that’s a good thing. That said, compromise means everybody gives something up,” Bauer said. “Are they going to make the good faith effort to negotiate with us and the governor and get to a minimum wage increase that we can all live with? Or are they going to do this for show so they can say the governor is not willing to deal with us so they can go straight to the ballot?”

It’s an interesting chess match, yet one with profound implications as the economic health of the state hangs in the balance.

Lost in the equation is the possible loss of jobs a bump up in the minimum could bring…this at a time when the state’s economy is reeling from the devastating effects of the storm.

I’ve believed all along that while it’s impossible to live on a 7.25 an hour job… one would have to cobble together a few of those…literally a few of those in order to just get by..if even.

Hence, and this is my conjecture only, if raising the minimum were to result in the loss of one of those jobs…which could conceivably happen…it wouldn’t pay to raise the minimum.

It look penny wise but pound foolish.

 

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