Minimum wage bill before Senate committee Monday

TRENTON – In the wake of superstorm Sandy, the Legislature is starting to get back to dealing with routine business.

And one of those items, and certainly not a routine one, will be on the Senate’s slate Monday: Increasing the minimum wage.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee will consider the bill – S3 – to hike the minimum wage to $8.50 from $7.25, and then adjust it annually based on the Consumer Price Index.

The Assembly passed the bill 46-33 in May.

The Office of Legislative Services provided a fiscal estimate back in April – long before the state was battered by the superstorm , and well before the state started missing fiscal revenue estimates because of the sluggish economy – but OLS said even then it could not estimate a total cost of the bill, largely due to the uncertainty related to increased labor costs for part-time and seasonal workers.

Business groups and Republican lawmakers predicted before the Assembly vote this year that hiking the minimum wage would lead to layoffs and further slow the pace of economic recovery.

On the same day, the Budget panel is scheduled to handle another bill that has grown in importance in these budget-conscious times: Consolidating municipal services.

S2 encourages towns to share services, such as police, by clarifying the power of the Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission to recommend mergers of specific towns and autonomous agencies and the sharing of services.

This bill provides that a LUARCC recommendation to combine would not be binding on a municipality.

However, the bill does provide that if voters reject a shared services proposal, or if voters approve it but a municipality does not make a good faith attempt to implement it, then it could leave to a loss in state aid equal to the estimated cost savings of the merger or consolidation.

A town would not  be penalized if the failure to implement shared services was the fault of another town’s governing body or voters.

Minimum wage bill before Senate committee Monday