Sweeney unveils minimum wage legislation

TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) of West Deptford, introduced a bill that would let residents vote on whether to raise the minimum wage next year.

The proposed question also states that future increases would be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or rate of inflation.

“For years, New Jersey has assigned a dollar amount to the minimum wage that is woefully inadequate,” Sweeney said in a statement. “In fact, it is a complete failure.  An increase must happen.  By tying future increases to the CPI, we are sparing working people from having their wages tied to the whims of politicians. Governor Christie simply did not agree with us on this issue, so we took him out of the equation.  Moreover, this is a promise to workers that can’t be taken away by future Legislatures or governors.”

Under the resolution, the state’s minimum wage would be increased from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour beginning in 2014.  After that, any increase in the minimum wage would be indexed to the annual CPI.

Sweeney said that an Office of Legislative Services analysis found that 10 states, representing 21 percent of the nation’s workforce, have indexed their minimum wage to changes in the CPI: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Missouri, Montana, Vermont, and Washington.

Every one of those states, except Vermont, adopted an indexed minimum wage by ballot initiative.

Many states have higher minimum wages than New Jersey. They include Washington, $9.04; Oregon, $8.80; Vermont, $8.46; Nevada, Illinois and Connecticut, $8.25; California and Massachusetts, $8.00; Alaska, $7.75; Ohio, $7.70; Florida, $7.67; Arizona and Montana, $7.65; Colorado, $7.64; Maine and New Mexico, $7.50; and Rhode Island and Michigan, $7.40.

The legislation will go to the Senate Labor Committee.

Sweeney unveils minimum wage legislation