NJ Politics Digest: Minimum Wage Hike’s Impact on Municipal Budgets

Gov. Phil Murphy and state lawmakers.
Gov. Phil Murphy and state lawmakers. Christian Hetrick for Observer

When state Democratic leaders passed a measure to hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour, they were eager to explain how it would help the state’s low-wage workers. What they didn’t talk about was how it would hurt the state’s already overburdened property tax payers.

But, the Asbury Park Press reports, as towns begin preparing their next budgets, officials will have to consider hiking taxes to cover the salary increases or cutting back services. State law raises the minimum wage to $10 in July and then $1 every January for the next five years, when it will reach $15.

That poses problems for towns, where a host of part-time or seasonal workers might now make $8 per hour, according to the report.

The problems are exacerbated by a 2 percent cap on property tax increases that has been in place since 2010, Michael Cerra, assistant executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, told the Press. Towns are already facing problems since Gov. Phil Murphy, who has received strong political support from public worker unions, refused to extend a cap on arbitration awards for police and fire salaries. The cap was implemented under former Gov. Chris Christie and has been widely hailed as helping slow the upward climb in the state property tax burden—among the most onerous in the United States.

New Jersey is among the leaders in the country for outmigration, with more people moving out than moving in as they seek states that are more affordable.

Cerra said the minimum wage increase, along with other state mandates, is a “death by a thousand cuts” that put town budgets under pressure, according to the report.

Quote of the Day: “This is one of a series of cost drivers that have been put on local governments in recent years,” — Michael Cerra, the assistant executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, on the plan to eventually hike the state minimum wage to $15 per hour.

NJ Minimum Wage Hike: Will Middletown, Others Raise Property Taxes?
When Gov. Phil Murphy signed a $15 minimum wage into law last month, he pitched the phased-in pay bumps as “a path to the middle class.”
Asbury Park Press Read more

Spelling Out How School Funding Forumla Needs to Be Overhauled
It’s been a decade since New Jersey adopted its progressive school funding formula and new data suggest that it’s overdue for an update. Any revision of the formula should direct extra funding toward students with special needs, those in high-poverty communities, and upping teachers’ salaries, according to a new report.
NJSpotlight Read more

Coast Guard Agrees to Short-Term Fix for Portal Bridge Woes
The U.S. Coast Guard has agreed to limit when tall boats are permitted to pass under the Portal Bridge, a century-old New Jersey rail crossing that has caused major delays for commuters and travelers riding on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor.
Politico Read more

NJ Marijuana Legalization Editorial: Don’t Rush Without Getting Answers First
We should have a good idea early next week whether the push to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey will be approved later this month or go up in smoke—at least for several more months.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Considering Safe Injection Sites to Address Impact of Opioid Epidemic
State lawmakers have proposed a year-long pilot program that would allow for the development of four safe injection sites in New Jersey, facilities where intravenous drug use would be allowed and supervised in an effort to reduce the risk of death and disease.
NJSpotlight Read more

What Happened to $125M Funds Slated for Libraries?
The New Jersey State Librarian is being inundated with calls from around the state, but none are about reserving the latest bestseller or where to find a science fiction thriller.
The Record Read more

Are Camden’s Millions in Tax Incentives Benefiting Residents?
Camden resident Ladeen Hornsby began working at My Auto Store 10 months ago. “Five minute drive from my house. My kids are on my insurance plan, that’s fantastic. It’s a great environment. I learned a new trade. I got a new trade under my belt. I mean it’s a fast-paced work environment. This is my type of place,” Hornsby said.
NJSpotlight Read more

Company Invested $1M to Bring 150 Jobs to This Poor NJ County, but It’s Backing Out
A manufacturing business that was looking to open a plant in Salem County and bring an estimated 150 jobs is backing out after claiming the railroad improvements it needed were not completed. County officials, however, say that’s not the case.
NJ.com Read more

Gun Violence Is One of Atlantic City’s Biggest Health Threats
A little less than two hours before the sun rose over the city Feb. 10, Demond Tally was shot dead as he walked from his neighbor’s home to his own on Presbyterian Avenue.
Press of Atlantic City Read more

Facing Budget Crisis, Paterson School Board Members at Odds Over ‘Newcomers’ School
As the city school district faces a $22 million budget crisis, members of the Paterson Board of Education cannot agree on the launch of a new high school for Spanish-speaking immigrant students next year.
The Record Read more

Editorial: Show Us the Value of an Atlantic City Airport Takeover
Maybe more flights would pull into Atlantic City International Airport if the airport weren’t being pulled in different directions regarding how it could be better utilized in the future.
South Jersey Times Read more NJ Politics Digest: Minimum Wage Hike’s Impact on Municipal Budgets