NJ Minimum Wage Hike Decision Goes To The Voters [POLL/AUDIO]
It's officially official; the voters of New Jersey will have the final say on whether or not raise the state's minimum wage.
Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the original minimum wage hike bill. But the resolution passed by both houses of the legislature in two consecutive years means the question will be placed on the ballot and Christie can't stop it.
The resolution that would call for a constitutional amendment to raise the state's minimum wage and tie further increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cleared the full Assembly yesterday. The initiative will now be placed on the 2013 ballot for voter approval.
"With the worst recession in a generation still being felt across the nation, we are focused on getting New Jersey's economy going again while helping working families make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage helps us do both," says Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. "Families are relying on low-wage jobs more than ever. A stronger minimum wage will help restore the consumer spending that powers our economy and that local businesses need in order to grow. A robust minimum wage is a key building block of sustainable economic recovery. The time for economic rebound is now, not later."
Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible says, "An economic factor such as the minimum wage should be determined by the marketplace and through a dialogue between the governor and Legislature. Increasing the wage by 14 percent and basing future increase in the CPI will impact businesses and eventually workers, especially those who are younger and work part-time. This issue does not rise to the level of amending New Jersey's Constitution."
"Small business owners in New Jersey are already at a competitive disadvantage because of our sky-high taxes and cost of living," says. "This will make that disadvantage permanent and it will guarantee that small business will never have any breathing room when it comes to labor costs."
The concurrent resolution (ACR-168/SCR-1) would propose a constitutional amendment that, if approved by New Jersey voters, would set the minimum wage in New Jersey at $8.25 per hour, and provide annual cost of living increases based on increases in the consumer price index. The cost of living increases would be added to the initial rate and any subsequent increases in the minimum wage made by law. Also, if the federal minimum wage is raised above the state rate, the state rate would be raised to match the federal rate. Future cost of living increases would then be added to that rate.
"The people of New Jersey clearly support a raise in the minimum wage and I look forward to them overwhelmingly approving this ballot question in November," says State Senate President Steve Sweeney. "They will pick up the ball where Governor Christie dropped it. As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, we have to do something for working people in this country who are struggling to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do, and by tying future increases to the CPI, we are removing politics and politicians from this process once and for all."
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), which would be commensurate with the high cost of living in this state. 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.
John Holub, president of the New Jersey retail Merchants Association says, "We still are trying to scratch and claw our way out of the worst economic downturn in 70 years, we're still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Only in Trenton would they think the solution to our problems and challenges would be to raise costs on people that actually create jobs………Our biggest concern is you're going to have people's hours cut back or business aren't going to hire as many people as they might have in the past."
National Federation of Independent Business New Jersey State director Laurie Ehlbeck says, "Small business owners in New Jersey are already at a competitive disadvantage because of our sky-high taxes and cost of living. This will make that disadvantage permanent and it will guarantee that small business will never have any breathing room when it comes to labor costs."