TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Christie could face a decision on legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage to about $15 an hour over the next five years.

The Democrat-led Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday on the measure that would raise the current $8.38 wage to $10.10 on Jan. 1. It also would raise the wage by $1.25 a year or $1 plus an adjustment for inflation, whichever is greater, the following four years.

Labor unions, progressive advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers have swarmed the statehouse to push for the measure.

The Democrat-led Senate Labor Committee advanced the bill in May.

Business groups object to the legislation arguing it inflates the cost of goods and labor.

New Jersey raised the wage in 2013, going from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour and indexing the wage to inflation. Before that, New Jersey’s last minimum wage increase, from $7.15 an hour to $7.25, occurred in 2010, when the federal rate was also raised. 

Democrats who control New Jersey’s Legislature also unveiled a $34.8 billion budget, just $300 million over what Republican Gov. Chris Christie is calling for in 2017.

Among the changes are an increase of $45 million for a property tax program that benefits older residents and $25 million for charity care.

The constitution requires a balanced budget, and lawmakers face a July 1 deadline when the new fiscal year begins.

The New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee will also hold a hearing Thursday on legislation that will raise a wholesale fuel tax by 23 cents while also cutting retirement and estate taxes. The proposed measure comes as legislators struggle to find a way to replenish the state’s transportation trust fund and to fix aging infrastructure, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

“I went out on one bridge and I’m not kidding, when I was on the bridge I wanted to get off the bridge because I could look through the beams,” senate president Stephen Sweeney said.

The proposed tax hike could raise $20 billion over the next 10 years. To gain bipartisan support, the bills also include provisions like phasing out the estate tax, which has sparked criticism from some activist groups.

 

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

 

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