NJ Politics Digest: Assembly Dems Unveil Plan to Raise Minimum Wage

Craig Coughlin.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

State Democratic leaders have been talking for almost a year about plans to hike the New Jersey state minimum wage to $15 per hour. On Thursday, their top man in the Assembly unveiled his plan.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s proposal calls for a gradual increase in the wage until it hits the $15 mark for most workers in 2024, according to reports. Others—including people under 18, farm laborers, seasonal workers and workers at companies with fewer than 10 employees—will have to wait until 2029 to benefit from the hike.

As a report in The Record of Bergen County points out, the “provision will likely be a point of contention between legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Murphy, who has called for a $15 minimum wage without such ‘carve-outs.’ ” Coughlin told radio station NJ101.5 that he gave Murphy a copy of the bill Thursday morning, but didn’t hear back from the governor.

It has also sparked criticism from progressive groups, who also object to some interest groups waiting 10 years for they benefit from the new standard.

Coughlin intends to have preliminary votes on the measure on Monday, but even if it moves forward, the full legislature will not be able to pass it until early next year.

If approved, the bill calls for the state’s minimum wage, which increases to $8.85 an hour in January and up to $9.50 on July 1, to increase annually.

Quote of the Day: “Frankly, we are embarrassed and annoyed that this type of legislation originated in South Jersey and we are well prepared to fight relentlessly against it,” — Sue Altman, of South Jersey Progressive Women for Change, of a bill co-sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney seeking a state constitutional amendment to change how the state’s legislative districts are drawn. Critics say the plan is designed to give Democrats undue power to create maps that favor their candidates.

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NJ Politics Digest: Assembly Dems Unveil Plan to Raise Minimum Wage