TRENTON – The Assembly passed resolution SCR1, which would amend the Constitution to set the minimum wage at $8.25 per hour with annual adjustments for inflation.
The vote was 46-31, along party lines.
Now that the Assembly, and last week the state Senate, have approved resolutions calling for the wage hike, a public question will appear on this November’s general election ballot.
Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill nearly two weeks ago that called for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50, and include annual adjustments to keep pace with the rate of inflation.
However, Christie, as expected, vetoed that bill, prompting Democrats to pursue the public question option. Several states have increased the minimum wage via the public question avenue.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama called for increasing the federal minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union speech.
In her floor speech, Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), East Orange, said she started the dialogue on this issue about 13 months ago, but unfortunately was not able to find a “sweet spot” for compromise.
She said it was time to give the public the opportunity to speak.
“We made the decision to go another route,” she said.
But Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) of Westfield, said the resolution would impose an automatic rise, regardless of the economy.
He added that seeking the hike through amending the Constitution is “not the appropriate way to address the minimum wage,” adding that Christie has recommended a reasonable hike.
Assemblyman Jack Ciattrelli (R-16) of Somerset, admitted that the public question would likely pass, but probably for the wrong reasons.