NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A new proposal from the leaders of the Democrat-led New Jersey Legislature would see the state’s minimum wage rise to $15 an hour over five years.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney unveiled the initiative Friday during a statehouse news conference.
“When you have 800,000 children in one of the wealthiest states in the country living in poverty, it is not acceptable,” said Sweeney.
The move comes after the two earlier announced competing plans to boost the state’s minimum wage from $8.38 an hour. The wage was last raised in 2013, from $7.25.
If approved, the new plan would raise the hourly wage to $10.10 in the first year with annual increases to push the minimum to $15 by the fifth year — an approach favored by Sweeney. It also will begin as a bill, rather than a proposal to amendment constitution, which Prieto wanted.
Gov. Chris Christie slammed the idea this week, calling it “economically irresponsible.”
“We’re giving the governor the opportunity to do the right thing and sign it into law; if not, then we’ll go with the constitutional amendment,” said Prieto.
Both lawmakers said they don’t expect Christie to support the measure, and they’re hopeful the amendment would be on the ballot for voters to decide by 2017.
Some business groups have also gotten together to launch a campaign against the proposal, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported.
The coalition called Opportunity New Jersey is also fighting proposals that would mandate paid sick leave and constitutionally require the government to make pension payments.
“We just said we’d had enough,” said Tom Bracken, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
Bracken said the group’s primary issue is with proposals that include the wage hike and pension payments in the state constitution, because there is then no flexibility when the economy is down.
“It’s just the wrong way to do it, because it hasn’t been properly analyzed or properly vetted,” Bracken said.
The group is urging legislators to sit down with business leaders and come up with solutions.
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