Minimum Wage Bill Passes 21-18 in the State Senate

Senate chamber

TRENTON – The senate this afternoon passed Assembly Bill No. 15, which raises the state’s minimum wage rate from $8.38 to $10.10, makes further increases over a four-year period, and maintains annual cost of living increases.

The bill passed 21-18

A motion to amend the bill failed.

“How many of us started stocking the shelves at the store?” wondered state Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13). “This is the group that would be really hard hit.”

Kyrillos proposed a training wage for a limited group of people, ages 15-21. “I think it’s a moderate and productive change to this initiative,” said the Monmouth senator, but fell short.

Moments later the senate narrowly passed the bill.

The legislation would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 on January 1, 2017. From January 1, 2018 until 2021, it would be increased annually by $1.25 per hour or $1 per hour, plus any increase in the Consumer Price Index. After 2021 the wage would be increased by any upward change in the CPI.  If the federal minimum wage is raised higher than the state, then the state minimum wage would be set to the federal standard and increases to the CPI would be applied to the federal wage rate.

“A $15 minimum wage would give hourly workers an improved pay scale so they can keep pace with the cost of living and support themselves and their families,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), who authored the prior two increases in New Jersey. “It is the right thing to do for working people and it is the smart thing to do for the economy. The higher wage will act as an economic stimulus because the money will go directly into the economy.”

According to a Federal Reserve study, every $1 increase in the minimum wage generates $1.35 in additional consumer spending.

“Unfortunately, too many New Jersey residents are finding it hard to work their way out of poverty earning minimum wage even though they are working very hard every day, sometimes two or more jobs, and playing by the rules,” said Senator Vitale. “As one of the wealthiest states in the nation, the state’s poverty rate is shameful. Our residents deserve better than minimum – they deserve a wage that can help them support their families.”

A full-time, minimum-wage worker earns $335 a week, which totals more than $17,000 a year.

A minimum wage worker would earn an additional $3,577 a year with the initial increase to $10.10, an amount that would grow to $13,469 when the $15 rate is reached.

An estimated 1.1 million New Jerseyans – including 350,000 children – live in households that do not earn enough to meet basic needs, even with the help of government assistance programs, according to a study by Rutgers University economist William Rodgers. The action in New Jersey takes place amidst a movement in other states and nationwide to raise the pay of minimum wage workers. California recently enacted a $15 statewide minimum and New York put in place a similar requirement for New York City and its suburbs.

If the governor refuses to sign the measure, Democratic legislators will go directly to the voters with a proposed constitutional amendment, vowed Sweeney.